What many describe as Tyrone’s greatest ever player, Peter Canavan, fancies his county to account for Armagh when the pair collide in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Writing in the Irish Independent, the man known as Peter the Great gave an account of his experience of the great rivalry between the two Ulster counties. While tempers have been know to boil over on the field of play, Canavan spoke of the respect that has built up between the two camps over time;
“It might surprise people that there’s none of that Armagh team that I wouldn’t have a drink with. Players had running battles but I can’t remember anything being said or done that went too far or left a bitter taste.
I remember the All Star tour in 2002. They were All-Ireland champions and they’d have known we were sore but they never rubbed our noses in it and I found myself gravitating towards them on that trip. I’d like to think we were the same when we beat them over the next couple of seasons”.
While looking ahead to the big game in Croke Park, Canavan acknowledged the strides and progress that Armagh have made under Kieran McGeeney this season. But he expects them to come unstuck as they meet a force they are yet to encounter in the 2017 season;
“He (McGeeney) has real reason to be optimistic about Armagh but as far as this season is concerned, Tyrone will be the best team they have faced by some distance. Defensively they have a system they are very comfortable with.
And they have the benefit of a strong bench too. And given how they have performed so far, Tyrone are a side playing with confidence too.
So I think Tyrone are little bit ahead in their development and expect them to win by a few. But Armagh are on the rise and one of football’s big rivalries looks to be on the way back”.
Canavan was the hero when these sides last met at the business end of the championship in Croke Park in 2005. Anything close to that excitement would be welcomed in Croke Park tomorrow.