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Ethan Rafferty is hungry for glory after the despair

By John Campbell

Ethan Rafferty can't wait to run out with Armagh for tomorrow's Ulster Championship meeting with Cavan at the Athletic Grounds.

The tall, rangy Grange clubman is intent on making up for lost time after a troublesome ankle injury and a tweaked hamstring combined to rule out his involvement in the latter stages of the Allianz League in which the Orchard County slid into Division Three.

Having initially made his mark at minor and Under 21 level, Rafferty was drafted into the senior squad by manager Paul Grimley this year and had formed a potent midfield pairing with Stephen Harold before injury intervened.

But neither player is named in the Armagh engine-room for tomorrow's tie – Kieran Toner and Aaron Findon will instead man the middle third of the park – although Rafferty's inclusion at full-forward could yet prove a selection ploy.

His height and physicality suggest that he can out-muscle the smaller Cavan defenders should Armagh revert to the route one policy which formed the bedrock of their strategy in winning seven Ulster titles since 1999.

Yet Armagh manager Paul Grimley still harbours the fear that the Breffni side's solid defensive mechanism which is based on tight marking, alert covering and considerable aid from their midfield and half-forward divisions could thwart his team's bid to amass scores.

And should this prove the case then Rafferty is likely to be deployed as an extra midfielder with Jamie Clarke and Stefan Campbell forming a two-man inside line.

One man who is more than familiar with Armagh's tactics down through the years and indeed of late is Rafferty's father Peter who served the county with distinction in the 1980's and it's no surprise that his son brings versatility to the table given that Peter himself played at wing-forward, wing-back and corner back.

He formerly managed the county Under-21 side and has taken spent three different terms as Grange manager.

Like everyone else in the Orchard County, he is hoping that the team can provide redemption for their disappointing league campaign when the action gets under way tomorrow.

"Obviously the championship offers scope for any side to show themselves in a better light and I think that Armagh are capable of doing this," says Peter.

"Maybe things did not go all that well for them in the league but they have been badly hit by injuries.

"They have got several players back now and the team now has a more seasoned look about it."

Yet for one reason or another Aaron Kernan, Johnny Hanratty, Tony Kernan, Robbie Tasker, Finian Moriarty, Stephen Harold, Aidan Grogan and Rory Grugan are not included.

Whether Armagh can overcame Cavan without a degree of strength in depth remains to be seen.

However, Ethan Rafferty's ability to make his presence felt in more than one position could prove crucial in avenging last year's disappointing defeat at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Belfast Telegraph

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