GRIMLEY GLAD OF JAMIE'S RETURN
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
ARMAGH manager Paul Grimley insists that his marquee forward Jamie Clarke will feature against the big guns in the Dr McKenna Cup despite Clarke returning to America.
Crossmaglen' senior squad will enjoy a 10-break in Florida between January 2 and January 12, as reward for what has been a hectic three-year playing schedule.
Clarke, who missed Crossmaglen's Senior Club Championship campaign this season due to travelling, returned to Orchard colours in the O'Fiaich Cup and scored 1-1 in Sunday's final against Derry after springing from the bench.
And Grimley is delighted to have a player of Clarke's ability back in his side and he expects him to return from his trip Stateside early to face Donegal and Tyrone in January.
“Jamie is coming home," said Grimley.
“I think he's only going away for five or six days so he will be back before the Donegal game and the Tyrone game. So he's only missing one game and that is great.
“As you can see, he came on and was a bit ring-rusty obviously as he has been out of football for six months or so and it showed, but once he got back into the swing of things he showed that class is permanent, especially in the second period."
Grimley also revealed that Armagh will release players to universities in the McKenna Cup - which is in stark contrast to last season's decision - and under the provision that they don't play against Armagh.
“The College players will be playing with their universities with the reason being, as opposed to last year, the Cross players were still involved in the Club Championship plus we had a lot of injuries," he said
“But circumstances have changed and they can play for their universities albeit they can't play against Armagh."
Last season Grimley held back his university players from joining the college squad, which contributed to Queen's withdrawing from the competition, but the Armagh boss doesn't regret the decision.
“If I had let university players go last year then Armagh wouldn't have been able to enter the McKenna Cup," he stressed.
Down, who avoided the O'Fiaich Cup wooden spoon with a convincing 4-21 to 0-10 victory over Louth in Armagh's Athletic Grounds on Friday, are also expected to release players to their colleges.
On Friday, Peter Fitzpatrick, Danny Savage and Niall Madine were exceptional with Saval's Madine and Glasdrumman's Connaire Harrison proving effective target men.
Seasoned players such as Mayobridge's Conor Garvey, Clonduff's Aidan Carr and Benny McArdle of Annaclone got some important game-time under their belts, which pleased the Down management.
SEE PAGE 49 FOR O'FIAICH CUP REPORT
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