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Belief shown by Crossmaglen chiefs is inspiring Jim Clarke

By Declan Bogue

Published 24/11/2015

Armagh Senior Football Championship Final, Athletic Grounds, Armagh 19/10/2014 Armagh Harps vs Crossmaglen Crossmaglen's Jamie Clarke celebrates scoring a goal
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Andrew Paton
Armagh Senior Football Championship Final, Athletic Grounds, Armagh 19/10/2014 Armagh Harps vs Crossmaglen Crossmaglen's Jamie Clarke celebrates scoring a goal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Andrew Paton

Jamie Clarke admits that his welcome back into the Crossmaglen Rangers fold by managers John McEntee and Oisín McConville has left him humbled.

Clarke has not long returned from one of his now-regular jaunts of travelling, but the gifted attacker appears to have satisfied his wanderlust for the time being as he is back in time to boost Cross hopes of landing an 11th Ulster Club Championship against Scotstown on Sunday.

"In fairness to John and Oisín, they have said this before; that it is my club as much as the likes of theirs. It's John's, Oisín's and Aaron's (Kernan)," Clarke told the Belfast Telegraph.

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When it is put to him that it is generous of the management to allow him back on the panel at this stage - considering how another player, Johnny Murtagh, remained off the panel under McEntee despite returning from a spell away - Clarke said their belief in him meant a lot.

"It says a lot about them, with the work they put into it. They know what we have achieved up through underage levels. So they have done it all before and they know that we are all still part of the community and part of the club," he said.

"They are proud. They want to keep everything going in the right direction. Even if you make mistakes, you will always get a second chance.

"Ultimately, they believe in you and that's the main thing."

Clarke described his novel emotions in watching from the bench, until his late introduction.

"To be honest, sitting there watching, usually I would be very disappointed, but I was very proud watching the lads," he continued.

"It just shows you that the club is bigger than anyone, it's bigger than any one person.

"I am delighted to be back in another Ulster final. We will have a tough day against Scotstown, so we have a week to prepare for that."

And he maintains that he will be doing everything in his power to win his place back.

"Absolutely. You can see that we have a lot of options there, most importantly. And the good thing is that everybody is backing each other, there are no cliques within the team. We just push each other on," added Clarke.

"I think that is the most important thing, these boys that came on in the last few minutes, it's up to ourselves to show a bit of leadership and push everyone on."

Clutching a biography of Pep Guardiola, with the skin on his nose peeling from adjusting from warmer climes, Clarke is quizzed if going back into winter training was a shock to his system.

"That's what the Ulster Championship is all about. We are well used to it," he acknowledged.

"Last year was the first year I lost a game in the Ulster Championship. We wanted to get back at it straight away, so this is what it's all about.

"I am just glad to be in another Ulster final. Who knows where this can take us."

Belfast Telegraph

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