‘Armagh have the ability to win the All-Ireland’ says Aaron Kernan ahead of semi-final

Armagh legend Aaron Kernan. Pic: INPHO/Morgan TreacyArmagh legend Aaron Kernan. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Armagh legend Aaron Kernan. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
All-Ireland SFC Semi-final. Saturday July 13 (5.30pm) at Croke Park: Armagh v Kerry

And then there were four. This weekend Armagh, Kerry, Donegal and Galway will travel to Croke Park with hopes of booking their place in the All-Ireland final.

And for Orchard County legend, he says that it is an exciting time for Armagh, after they booked their place in the last four of the competition for this first time since 2005.

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“The huge plus is that we are where we are, after so many heartbreaks and near misses,” he said.

Armagh legend Aaron Kernan. Pic: Russell Pritchard / PressEyeArmagh legend Aaron Kernan. Pic: Russell Pritchard / PressEye
Armagh legend Aaron Kernan. Pic: Russell Pritchard / PressEye

“It's an exciting week for the county and for the players. I'm delighted that they were able to get the monkey of losing All-Ireland quarter-finals off of their backs, because the longer that goes on the harder it is to shake psychologically.”

On Saturday June 29, after Armagh took care of their own business against Roscommon, they were given another shot in the arm with the news that Dublin were knocked out by Galway, and Kernan says all four remaining teams have a realistic shot at winning the competition.

“Every team will genuinely back themselves to win it,” said the Crossmaglen man.

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“If Armagh play to their full potential, I firmly believe that they have the ability to win the All-Ireland.

The Armagh squad pictured ahead of their 2023 Championship match against Tyrone. Pic: John MerryThe Armagh squad pictured ahead of their 2023 Championship match against Tyrone. Pic: John Merry
The Armagh squad pictured ahead of their 2023 Championship match against Tyrone. Pic: John Merry

“But, with it being an All-Ireland semi-final, they have to play to the best of their ability. If they come up short in any regard, whether that's how we defend, how we attack, anything at all, I think we could be beaten and it could be a missed opportunity for those players.

“I was sitting in Croke Park that night and when Dublin were beaten, automatically you're thinking 'this has been blown wide open here'.

“That's the exciting thing. Yes, Kerry are always there, but I think there is a general freshness to the whole All-Ireland campaign. The fact that we're going into the semi-finals and Dublin aren't there, absolutely everybody has the right to be thinking 'if we perform to the best of our ability, there is every chance that we'll be sitting in an All-Ireland final on the last weekend of July'.

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“That excites us as supporters, but players need to park that and concentrate on their own role and not look too far ahead of yourselves.”

Armagh's Conor Turbitt hitting the back of the net against Roscommon during their All-Ireland quarter-final meeting. Pic: Brendan MonaghanArmagh's Conor Turbitt hitting the back of the net against Roscommon during their All-Ireland quarter-final meeting. Pic: Brendan Monaghan
Armagh's Conor Turbitt hitting the back of the net against Roscommon during their All-Ireland quarter-final meeting. Pic: Brendan Monaghan

Regarding Saturday’s opposition, Kernan says that whilst he doesn’t believe that the current Kerry side aren’t as strong as they have been in previous years, he still backs them as slight favourites but the weekend.

“I don't think they are as good now as they were in years gone by,” said the 2005 Young Footballer of the Year.

“They're missing an out-and-out fetcher in David Moran and the passing ability that he has, I don't think that they have that sort of aerial presence around the middle of the field.

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“They get a lot of stick for how they set-up defensively, but for me, they have a lot of quality in what they do defensively. The vast majority of the time, they concede as much as they do because they are trying to play more open football.

“Last weekend against Derry, they maybe over-thought it too much, and probably played Derry too much on the terms that Derry wanted the game to be played and that's why Derry were still in the game with 10 or 12 minutes to go.

“They will take lessons from that. They haven't won the amount of All-Irelands they have won without picking up things as they go along.

“In my heart of hearts, I think Kerry are favourites, not by much, but I don't see them being the Kerry team that we saw the whole way through the noughties. I don't see that same quality all across the field that they had then.”

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Keep an eye on www.newryreporter.com/sport all week for build-up to this Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC Semi-final, including Armagh legends Steven McDonnell and Aaron Kernan’s opinions on where the game will be won or lost for the Orchard County!

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