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Armagh call for keeper Hughes

By John Campbell

It's not often the goalkeeper on a team which suffers a 22-point defeat in a major match can expect to find himself in line for special recognition.

But the five-star performance which Sean Hughes offered when Ballymacnab fell to Crossmaglen Rangers in the recent Armagh senior football championship final certainly did not go unnoticed by county boss Paddy O’Rourke.

Ballymacnab, who had defied the odds to reach the decider, would have suffered a much more embarrassing defeat had it not been for an acrobatic show by Hughes who denied the rampant Rangers at least five goals.

Now the agile custodian is in line to sample action for his county in the McKenna Cup and possibly in the National League.

Paul Hearty, Armagh’s first-choice goalkeeper for several seasons, will be unavailable until after Crossmaglen’s involvement in the All-Ireland Club championship is terminated thus providing a window of opportunity for Hughes.

Along with Middletown’s Niall Geoghegan, he is challenging for the No 1 shirt in what is expected to be a new-look Armagh side.

Orchard county spokesman Joe Jordan believes that Hughes and Geoghegan can certainly help to keep the long-serving Hearty, who is now 32, on his toes.

“Sean was absolutely superb for Ballymacnab all through their county championship run while Niall has been catching the eye recently,” said Jordan.

“It is certainly heartening to note that we have two goalkeepers of this calibre coming through.

“They are in line to get a chance to show what they can do with the county.”

Another player who could find himself in the frame for selection is wing-back Mark Shields from the Whitecross club.

“Mark has been very impressive this year and has been showing up well in trials,” added Jordan.

“He is a hard-working player who defends well but can still go forward.

“He has a good attitude too.”

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