Armagh manager Peter McDonnell feels that the timely return to form of centre-half-back Tony McClelland and the restoration of James Lavery to the midfield sector can prove key to his team’s bid to reach the Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup final.
Granemore clubman McClelland is finding his form after an injury lay-off and Lavery is again in the frame having missed the games against Antrim and Queen’s because of an injury picked up in the squad’s first training session of the New Year.
The duo underscored Armagh’s commitment and energy in the one-point defeat by Cavan last week-end but McDonnell is confident they can step up to the mark again against Donegal in tomorrow’s night’s semi-final against Donegal at Healy Park, Omagh (7.30).
“I’m delighted that both Tony and James are back in the side. I have been familiar with their abilities for some time but now that they are both fit and eager, they give me useful options,” says manager McDonnell.
It was by dint of finishing best runners-up that Armagh find themselves confronting a Donegal outfit who have already beaten UUJ, and Fermanagh and drawn with Derry.
“I think Donegal have underlined their desire to win the McKenna Cup and this will be a stiff test for us tomorrow night. Obviously new manager John Joe Doherty is keen to make an early impact with Donegal and the matches they are currently getting will certainly be of considerable benefit to them,” observes McDonnell.
Doherty will surely be impressed with the form of players like Kevin McMenamin, David Walsh and Stephen Griffin to date, the latter’s free-taking having brought him into the public eye.
But the Donegal boss may bring back last year’s skipper Neil Gallagher for tomorrow night’s game while Eamonn McGee, Ciaran Bonner, Rory Kavanagh, Barry Monaghan and Conal Dunne may also get starting berths.