Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Armagh ripe for talent

Paddy O'Rourke

Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke is currently in the throes of completing a series of trials in which over 70 players have been involved.

O’Rourke, assisted by trainer Mike McGurn and selector Donal Murtagh, has already conducted an intensive trawl of talent within the county and feels he has now been armed with useful information as he ponders the composition of his initial squad.

Murtagh, the former Crossmaglen Rangers boss whose encyclopaedic knowledge of club football in the Orchard county is proving a considerable bonus for O’Rourke, has played a big part in pinpointing players who may be on the verge of a breakthrough.

Thorough and meticulous in his approach to his new role, Murtagh is a walking dossier on a veritable army of players not just in Armagh but throughout Ulster.

Having won the All Ireland Minor title and reached the final of the Ulster Under Championship this year, in which they were only narrowly defeated by Down, Armagh boast considerable under-age resources.

But the management team have made it clear they are prepared to exercise patience in bringing players through at senior level.

“Obviously there are a number of players who have been in the squad in recent years whose credentials are well known to everyone so we have been focusing primarily on other players who may have been on the fringe of the squad or who are deemed worthy of consideration because of recent form,” says O’Rourke.

He will have been considerably heartened by the fact that when Ulster beat Leinster in the inter-provincial championship semi-final last Saturday, three Armagh players — Brendan Donaghy, Ciaran McKeever and Aaron Kernan — helped to underpin the Ulster defence.

O’Rourke and his management team will take a special interest in how Pearse Og fare in the Ulster Club Championship in which they will meet Antrim champions St Galls on Sunday.

Ronan Clarke, Paul Duffy and Andy Mallon have been regulars in the Armagh side recently under ex-manager Peter McDonnell but Conor Clarke, Anto Duffy and Chris Rafferty are among the players currently pushing for recognition at county level.

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