New season ready to start

THE new GAA season gets underway this weekend with a series of games in the McKenna Cup competition.

And county sides will use the January period to blood new players for the National League which starts in early February.

Senior manager Paddy O’Rourke, with his new assistant Paul Grimley at his side, will run the rule over no fewer than 12 debutants.

They will include Clan na Gael’s Stephan Campbell, Sarsfields Michael Stevenson, St Peter’s midfielder Aaron Findon,and the emerging Aidan Forker from Maghery.

Meanwhile the management of the county’s under 21 set up could be faced with an injury headache in the build up to a visit to Breffni Park to face Ulster champions Cavan in early March.

This season’s under 21 management team of Paul McShane and Kieran Robinson have an uphill battle on their hands.

With several under 21 players being brought into the senior squad the under 21 management will have to bide their time in the hope that they can put a winning formula together before the championship.

And the ‘MAIL’ understands that St Paul’s talented midfielder Andy Murnin has side stepped an offer to join the Armagh senior squad to concentrate instead on university football with Queens, the Armagh under 21s and to finish out the season with Lurgan Celtic.

Kieran Robinson is hoping to have a full squad to pick from before the championship.

He said: “With Crossmaglen still involved in the All-Ireland club series and some of the under 21 players deciding to take the opportunity to train with the seniors its always difficult to get a full under 21 squad together in the early part of the year.”

Currently Wolfe Tones men James Lavery and Ruairi McCaughley are with the under 21 squad.

Clan na Gael’s Paul McKenna, who had a good season with the Lurgan Blues, is also at preseason training along with St Peter’s Niall McConville.