Tuesday 20 March 2018

McDonnell relishing long summer

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

IT'S just as well that Armagh's Steven McDonnell has little time for convention.

Traditionally, teams drawn in the preliminary round of the Ulster championship are afforded only a brief summer, while sides shackled with a trip to Celtic Park to take on Derry rarely win. With both factors counting against Armagh, the Orchard men have been charged with an unenviable task, but McDonnell is focusing on the positives.

"Down won there in 1994 and they went on to win the All-Ireland so if we have the same luck as Down I'd be happy enough with that," said the Killeavy sharpshooter, who was voted the Opel GPA Player of the League along with Galway hurler Ger Farragher.

"Derry have a fantastic record in Celtic Park, there's no doubting that and even in National League games they are a tough team to beat up there. Form will certainly go out the window on Sunday because you can't look at what Derry have done in the National League this year. They have been gearing themselves towards this match for a long time and we know that if we are going to get the win on Sunday it will be well earned."

This weekend represents McDonnell's first senior championship clash at the Derry venue, an amazing statistic considering he made his debut in 1999. And despite the Oak Leaf's excellent record there, McDonnell is confident his side can succeed.

"At the end of the day, it is just another field and that's the way we have to look at it. We have to do a bit of extra travelling to get to it, but I'd be of the opinion that it doesn't matter where you are playing, you still have to go out and perform. Sunday will be no different for us.

"A lot of the team from the early part of the decade are gone, there's maybe only two or three of us left so we're building for the future, but at the same time we're a team that is capable of winning trophies."

Irish Independent

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