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Armagh's chicken and egg scenario

The contrast between Ulster rivals Derry and Armagh at Croke Park on Sunday was stark, even allowing for the early stage of the year.

When the dust settles on the 2024 All-Ireland Football Championship, little heed is likely to be given to the outcome of the Division 1 and 2 deciders, yet the collection of league silverware could have a greater impact than some give it credit for.

Many observers felt before a ball was thrown in that in Division 1 that Derry were the one side, with Mickey Harte looking to kick the Oak Leaf County on from successive All-Ireland semi-final defeats to ultimate glory, for whom a trophy in April would be a great boost heading into championship.

That they duly delivered, in such dramatic circumstances, appears to have cemented the view that they have joined the Dubs and Kerry as one of the three leading lights for Sam Maguire.

The warm-up act at GAA HQ was more of a shadowboxing exercise, with Donagal ultimately squeezing home.

While neither side was likely to have taken defeat as a major setback, given Armagh's three championship penalty shootouts over the last couple of years, former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice believes that a win on Sunday would have been a huge fillip ahead of their provincial campaign.

"They were so close in the Ulster final last year, also losing twice in quarter-final shootouts," he told the RTÉ GAA podcast.

"They have just come out the wrong side, until you get that win, until you get that significant win to feed and fuel that belief.

"It’s a chicken and egg kind of thing.

"When Armagh are at full strength and they go at it, they are a formidable outfit."

Fitzmaurice says a fit Oisin O’Neill is a huge boost for the Orchard County, though added that the reluctance by Armagh