Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Armagh up to task says Grimley

Armagh manager Paul Grimley is still trawling for positives as he sets his sights ever more firmly on Sunday week's Ulster Championship preliminary round tie against Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park.

The return of Jamie Clarke to his fold, the presence of fit-again Eugene McVerry and Rory Grugan up front and Brendan Donaghy's reinstatement in the defence provide Grimley with encouragement for a match that could define his team's season.

But with Kieran Toner set to miss out because of injury and Charlie Vernon some way off championship fitness, Grimley is denied a substantial slice of overall physique to help counter a Cavan side that will be an amalgam of youth and experience.

And with skipper Ciaran McKeever having only played for one half of the challenge game against Louth on Sunday to mark the official opening of the Dorsey club's new pitch, he must hope that the St Patrick's clubman will regain full sharpness prior to D-Day.

"We have had our injury worries but we have to dwell on the plus-factors. I still believe that this Armagh side has a lot to offer and the fact that we managed to hold on to our status in Division Two has had a big impact on morale," explains Grimley.

Selector Brendan Hughes acknowledges that Armagh cannot afford to risk players who might be anything less than 100 per cent fit.

"Kieran Toner is a big worry. He needs rest and this will almost certainly rule him out of the Cavan game. He has been a big player for us and has shown his versatility lately," stresses Hughes.

It was against Galway in the concluding Allianz League game that Toner was particularly prominent in the unusual role of midfield.

"Kieran was asked to do a particular job on danger man Paul Conroy that day and fulfilled this brief well. Cavan will present a different problem to us and we will have to plan accordingly for this with the resources," says Hughes.

"But it is our attention to attack the championship... we are remaining very positive."

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