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Armagh are looking to pull off one of the greatest Gallagher Challenge Cup upsets

Jonny Morton  

Ben Mackey and Michael HoeyArmagh are looking to pull off one of the greatest Gallagher Challenge Cup upsets this afternoon when they travel to 26-time winners Waringstown.

Michael Hoey's side have made a solid start to the season, winning three of their five Section One matches to date and are coming off a dramatic 1-wicket victory over Muckamore where they chased 264 with three balls to spare. They faced off against Waringstown in 2018 during their last stint in the top-flight and Hoey is well-aware of the task that awaits them at The Lawn, but hopes his squad can rise to the occasion.

"It is easy to lie down being the underdogs, but we want to go and give the best account of ourselves," he said. We are looking forward to it and hopefully everyone can raise their game and make it competitive."

They are bolstered by the return of fast bowler Ben Mackey, who is back with The Mall outfit after spending last season and the start of the current one in the Premier League with CSNI. The 23-year-old played a key role in Armagh's previous promotion before collecting 21 wickets in his debut campaign at Stormont and Hoey is delighted to have further firepower at his disposal.

"It's massive for us and it gives us a bit of extra pace up top," he added. "It will be nice to see how he has improved with the coaching he has received over the last couple of seasons so hopefully he hits the ground running straight away."

Alan Whitcroft is also back at the club following a spell with Coleraine and all-rounder JJ Strydom has been signed as overseas professional. Samuel Wilson and Aaron Wright, who both spent time at Waringstown, will be crucial to Armagh's hopes with the former thriving after a promotion to the top of the order – as showcased by hitting 91 against Saintfield - while Wright has proved his class and quality throughout the campaign.

"Those two have been very good up to now," said Hoey. "Hopefully they can use that confidence and keep working hard to push on all season to help us win as many games as possible. This year is up there with the most competitive squad of 14/15 guys I've seen to pick for the firsts in the last number of years so everyone knows they have to contribute to be selected as there are other players knocking on the door."

Gallagher Challenge Cup second round fixtures:
Cliftonville Academy vs CIYMS, Cregagh vs Muckamore, CSNI vs Ballymena, Dundrum vs Derriaghy, Instonians vs North Down, Lisburn vs Bangor, Waringstown vs Armagh, Woodvale vs Carrickfergus

Gallagher Challenge Cup

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Photo courtesy of Armagh Cricket Club