Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Armagh ace James Lavery return boosts Maghery title tilt

In the frame: James Lavery has battled back from injury
In the frame: James Lavery has battled back from injury

Armagh ace James Lavery has overcome what was initially thought to be a career-threatening injury to make a robust return at club level just in time for the county championship.

The Maghery player sustained serious neck damage in a training ground mishap at the start of the summer which ruled him out of Armagh's entire championship programme.

Indeed, the then Armagh boss Paul Grimley indicated at the time that Lavery was unlikely to play any more football this year.

But the player's determination and self-sacrifice have been such that he has now made a dramatic return to the Maghery club colours and played a big part in their opening Armagh Championship win over Killeavy, 2-10 to 0-12, at the weekend.

Lavery's return to full health has served to further bolster a side that many believe could yet prove a threat to Crossmaglen Rangers' ambitions of maintaining their dominance within the county.

Lavery along with the Forker brothers Conor, Aidan and Stefan as well as Shay Tennyson helps to provide a raft of experience within the side just when it is most needed.

"It's always encouraging to see a player make a comeback from a serious injury even though it was unfortunate that James did not quite make it for the Ulster Championship," says Armagh PRO Raymond Kerins.

"Still, he has the capacity to make a big impact in the domestic county competition."

With a qualifier format now introduced for the first time, this means that there will be an enhanced menu of matches spanning the next few weeks.

And Kerins reports that there has been nothing but encouraging feedback in relation to the new mechanism.

"The reaction has been very positive to date and the qualifiers have given the championship an extra dimension," he points out.

"It means that all teams will get a second bite at the cherry and it also means extra fare for spectators," he says.

"Several high-profile players who have been out of action lately have returned at club level and their presence is a boost for the competition."

Meanwhile, Ronan Clarke's return to the Pearse Og colours offers the hope that the team can make headway through the qualifiers following their fall to Armagh Harps last weekend in the big city derby.

Clarke has been out of action for a lengthy spell but his return to club fare has given Pearse Og a real fillip.

He has worked particularly hard to regain full fitness and now joins his brother Sean in the Pearse Og attack for what the club hopes will be a successful foray into the qualifiers.

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