Beware those “boot boys” from Armagh

Beware those “boot boys” from Armagh
And no we are not talking about those “silent assassins” who make Trappist monks seem like good time guys.

And no we are not talking about those “silent assassins” who make Trappist monks seem like good time guys.

It is the clever old Crossmaglen kick pass that has been used to crucify so many club opponents over the past decade.

Time was when the late great Armagh side had only one diagonal ball and it went to Stevie McDonnell and Ronan Clarke.

But the booted ball is now coming from the half-back-line from the likes of Aaron Kernan to Jamie Clarke, Stefan Campbell and Tony Kernan.

Armagh are no one trick or even two trick ponies, as their real Taoiseach Kieran McGeeney moulds a team entirely in his image.

Say nothing till ya hear more seems to be their adage while Jim McGuinness could talk interestingly for Ireland, yet his men are more muted.

Both managers are brilliant at using “perceived hurts” as motivation.

McGeeney doesn’t mind a little paranoia to motivate his lock-jawed legionnaires while Jim suggests that some mysterious people have questioned his team’s character.

That may be a genuinely held belief but what “people” were really questioning was how could Donegal replicate the hunger of 2012 last year given their injuries.

So who will win this great game of Gaelic chess?

And when you have two uber defensive sides then it could all go down to the clichéd inches.

Donegal have experience, organisation, discipline, determination and four really class acts in Michael Murphy, Karl Lacey, Eamon McGee and Colm McFadden.

Armagh may play a bit like their doughty predecessors of the last decade but therein ends the comparison.

There is no Paul McGrane, McGeeney, McEntees, Stevie McDonnell, Ronan Clarke or the one and only Francie Bellew to lead them through those dark moments.

Ciaran McKeever, the Mallons and Kernans are among the remnants of that mighty team but McKeever is doubtful.

Kevin Dyas, Jamie Clarke, Stefan Campbell and Tony Kernan are really major figures for the Orchard County.

But they strangely kicked a lot of ball into the Kildare keeper’s hands and they have not met any team really like Donegal although they could have upset Monaghan earlier this year.

There has been a lot of weird chat about Donegal meeting Dublin in the semi-final but that has come mostly from the more rabid supporters and elements of the southern media.

Nobody is expecting anything from Armagh that adds to their “persecution complex” and suits Mr McGeeney to a tee.

But Jim McGuinness needs no lessons in how to play mind games.

He has far greater scoring power, despite Armagh’s 0-18 against Kildare, and that could be the real difference.

Armagh’s direct kicked passing could be an issue but they will have to be deadly accurate against a 12 or 13-man defence.

There is a lot more room for open football in Croker and that could help the booted ball but you can expect to see Ryan McHugh replicating big brother Mark’s running role in 2012.

Everybody expects Donegal to win and talk of a hoodoo is rubbish as this Armagh team is very different to the Noughties side.

So Tir Chonaill to might take them the most of an hour to do so.

But first they must derail the “boot boys”.