An Armagh father and son team have committed themselves to achieving championship success in 2010 — but in different counties.
While 2002 All Ireland winner Ronan Clarke is already focused on striving to ensure that Pearse Og retain their orchard county crown, his manager father Adrian has pledged himself to Carrickmore for another year in the hope of bringing the side the ultimate accolade in the Red Hand county.
And while Ronan proved a pivotal figure in Pearse Og’s emergence from the championship wilderness this year, Adrian took Carrickmore to the semi-finals of the Tyrone championship in which they lost to eventual title-holders Dromore.
The duo, now that they have set out their respective stalls, are hoping to enjoy further progress in the months that lie ahead. Ronan, who played in the Armagh championship final and in the Pearse Og defeat by St Gall’s in the Ulster Club Championship while suffering from a debilitating viral infection, has resumed light training but will not be involved with Armagh in the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup.
“I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things but I don’t expect to see action in the McKenna Cup. I will certainly be hoping that Armagh can make headway. I have been very impressed by the attitude of our new manager Paddy O’Rourke and his strength and conditioning coach Mike McGurn to date. They are showing a very committed, professional approach,” says Ronan.
And while he himself regains his fitness levels, his father is more than happy that Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has included two Carrickmore players, Collie McGurk and Mark Donnelly, in his McKenna Cup squad.
“I would hope that these boys get the chance to show what they can do in the competition. They are talented lads and deserve a
chance. While I was reasonably happy that Carrickmore got into the Tyrone final this year, the onus on us now is to push on further in 2010. There are good structures in place within the club but there is a lot of hard work to be done,” insists Adrian.
And he predicts that the Tyrone Championship will be a very open contest, offering the possibility of newcomers being crowned.
“No club has a God-given right to success. Within the past couple of years Dromore and Clonoe have won the Tyrone title. We would like to think that Carrickmore might win it this year but a lot of the sides are very well organised with good managers and back-up teams so it’s going to be very, very competitive,” said Adrian.