Armagh starlets to take a break
Armagh will be shorn of the services of two of their most exciting young forwards for the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup competition next month.
Rory Grugan and Gavin McParland — both of whom helped the Orchard County win the 2009 All-Ireland Minor title and gained valuable experience at senior level this year — are taking time out to recover from troublesome injuries.
Grugan has been hampered by a shoulder problem for several months but having now received further treatment he is hoping to be re-energised for the 2012 campaign.
“Rory has been playing through the pain barrier to some extent recently,” says Armagh spokesman Joe Jordan.
“He has just completed a very busy season as his club Ballymacnab reached the county final.
“He did not have any real opportunity to rest his injured shoulder but now he will avail of that chance.
“He is hopeful that he will be back for action in the National League.”
McParland, who also plays for Ballymacnab, has been suffering from a hand injury and requires a break from the game in order to make a complete recovery.
“Obviously Gavin’s handling skills are impaired a bit because of this but both he and Rory are viewed as important players and we would like them to be firing on all cylinders,” explains Jordan.
And he goes on: “The fact that they will be out at the start of the year will open the door to other hopefuls who will probably get the chance to establish themselves in the side.
“Don’t forget we still have Ronan Clarke, Steven McDonnell and Jamie Clarke missing from our attack, so there really will be places up for grabs.”
With Kieran Toner heading to Australia and David McKenna immersed in Crossmaglen Rangers’ preparations for their All-Ireland club semi-final against Dr Crokes in February, there is a window of opportunity too for other players to stake their claims for midfield berths.
“Our options here may be viewed as limited but we have players like Peter Carragher and James Donnelly who are anxious to grab their chance so we will see how things go,” adds Jordan.
Manager Paddy O’Rourke and coach Paul Grimley have already conducted an intensive trawl of talent within the county with a view to assessing as many players as possible over the course of the McKenna Cup competition.
Grimley — clearly relishing his new role with his native county — makes it clear that while Armagh’s resources, particularly in attack, may be viewed as modest at the moment, there will be a clear drive for success nonetheless.
“Armagh is a proud county with a marvellous fan base,” states Grimley who was number two to Seamus McEnaney in Meath last year.
“And I believe that when we have everyone back on board we will be a match for any team,” he adds.