Under the management of Paul Grimley, Armagh have thrown out the net and brought in a lot of new talent.
Several of the players who impressed this season have blossomed under the coaching methods of the Pearse Ogs clubman allied by the experience of Kieran McGeeney. With players like Aaron Kernan, Kieran McKeever and Tony Kernan approaching the end of their County careers, management in 2015 will be keen to keep the competition for places at a high level with the initial target being promotion from the 3rd Division.
At the beginning of 2014 Armagh suffered more than most Counties on the injuries front and the fitness of the side which lost to Donegal on Saturday was unquestioned. So can the Armagh squad be strengthened and does the County have the resources to bring a measure of consistency to the teams future campaigns? Do any local players have the ability to claim a place on a future Armagh squad?.
Here are some contenders who may be considered:
(Tir na Nog)
Mark was a top class youth player with the Portadown club, he lined out for Armagh Minors and Under 21s before concentrating on a career in the Irish League. He is currently with Portadown and has stated in the past he would love to play for Armagh. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him join an Armagh squad sometime in the future. Mark has the ability to play gaelic at the highest level.
Christopher McGaughey (Sarsfields)
On his return from America Christopher has played a central role in his club’s successful league campaign.
Better known as an outfield player he will be returning to Kanzas University where he will be completing a goalkeeping scholarship. The Sarsfields player if encouraged to join a future Armagh squad would without doubt be one of the top keepers in the county and standing at over 6ft he would be ideally suited to the modern Inter-county game. In his youth Chris had lined out for Glenavon in goal.
Man of the match in the 2009 All Ireland Minor Final, Andrew in the interim years has been sought after by several Armagh managers as well as being mooted for a spell in the Irish League. The St. Paul’s player was highly rated by Aidan O’Rourke who was his coach at Queens University but injury has plagued the young Lurgan man’s career over the past number of seasons. Murnan was eased back into the St. Paul’s team at the end of last season by manager Shane McConville but over recent months the former Minor star is returning to form in a recognised central role.
The Clanns man and former Armagh Minor captain will without doubt play for the Armagh seniors in future years, but could be ready to join the squad despite being still part of the County under-21 team. Shay has the perfect temperament an ability to be a top class Inter-County player, and with both Paddy McKeever and Ronan Clarke being involved in Armagh senior teams at a young age the argument could be made for the young Lurgan man. Shay is a classy type who would benefit from an early Senior call up.
Still a classy forward with a lot to offer, Ryan has spent the last number of years concentrating on Irish League football with Linfield and is currently playing for Lurgan Celtic. The Clann Éireann man some would suggest had a raw deal when playing for the County in recent years, but Henderson would be mature enough and experienced enough to rekindle his Armagh career. Ryan has concentrated this season on playing for his club and although it has taken him a period of time to re-invent his gaelic skills he could again become a valuable member of the Armagh squad.
Rauiri has been one of the most impressive players in the Second Division this season and has been a major part of his team’s climb to the top of the Division. The Tones defender has all the attributes to become a talented member of the Armagh squad, a fantastic man marker he has a great attitude to training and the temperament to commit to tackles. The Cash player has already lined out for the County at Minor and Under 21 level and is a similar style of player to Crossmaglen’s James Morgan and Paul McKeown.