Two new keepers for panel

TWO new goalkeepers will join the Armagh panel for the McKenna Cup and National League games.

This is because of the absence of Paul Hearty who will be concentrating on Crossmaglen’s fortunes in the All-Ireland club series.

Sean Hughes from Ballymacnab, who pulled off a string of fine saves in this year’s Armagh club final, has been drafted into Paddy O’Rourke’s panel.

And another goalkeeper who will make his debut in the new year is Middletown man Niall Geoghan.

Both goalkeepers will get their chance to impress the county’s management and whilst the 2012 McKenna Cup campaign will be difficult the fixtures for the forthcoming league campaign are the toughest for many years.

Armagh, under several managerial regimes, have toyed with the idea of finding a genuine replacement for Paul Hearty and although several keepers have been used in various campaigns, Hearty should be between the posts come championship time.

Assistant Armagh manager Paul Grimley stated recently that Ronan Clarke, who is still recovering from an achilles tendon injury, could be back to take part in the latter stages of the National League.

Meanwhile supporters will have to be patient as they await the return of Steven McDonnell to the county colours.

The former All Star is currently taking a break and isn’t expected to return until the spring.

Another player who will be missing is Granemore’s Kieran Toner who is planning to spend a year in Australia and will miss the entire 2012 season.

The absence of the Crossmaglen players, in particular Jamie Clarke and Aaron Kernan, will allow Paddy O’Rourke and Paul Grimley to run the rule over several newcomers in the McKenna Cup and NFL campaigns.

Since the 2005 season Armagh’s fortunes have taken a dip on the provincial and national stage. They would now be seen as being less of a provincial threat than Derry, Tyrone and Donegal and the likelihood is that a lot of team building will be required in the near future.