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Crossmaglen Rangers boost for Armagh’s challenge

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke has his sights on a two-fold bonus as he prepares to unveil his panel for 2011.

The Orchard County will return to action at the refurbished Athletic Grounds when the Dr McKenna Cup competition gets under way in January but before then O’Rourke expects to have brought on board some of the young guns who have fired Crossmaglen Rangers into the semi-finals of the Ulster Club championship.

O’Rourke took in the Rangers stunning eclipse of reigning Ulster and All-Ireland champions St Gall’s at the quarter-final stage having earlier conducted an intensive trawl of talent throughout the county in tandem with his selector Donal Murtagh. And with conditioning coach Mike McGurn furnishing players with individual fitness programmes that will span the close season period of November and December, O’Rourke is hoping that Armagh will hit the ground running.

The return of Jamie Clarke from suspension at the end of this month could prove a boost for both Crossmaglen and O’Rourke.

The talented 21-year-old forward was hit with a two-month ban and has missed Crossmaglen’s semi-final and final games in the Armagh championship as well as

their Ulster Club win over St Gall’s.

But should the Rangers overcome Burren on Sunday, Clarke will be available for the final against either Coalisland or Donegal champions Naomh Conail on November 28.

While O’Rourke is keeping his cards close to his chest for the moment, he has already expressed his admiration for Clarke’s finishing skills.

“Obviously Jamie is still inexperienced at county level but he certainly has plenty of talent. His return to action will be welcomed and we will see how things go,” said O’Rourke.

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Live TV coverage of the 2011 All-Ireland hurling and football championships will be down by 20 per cent on this year with Saturday afternoon qualifier games as the main casualties.

A total of 50 senior championship games were broadcast ‘live' this year but it will be reduced to 40 next season with RTE screening 31 and nine going to TV3. The All-Ireland minor finals will switch from RTE to TV3.

Fewer ‘live' games will probably mean a reduction in the fees paid by the TV companies but the GAA declined to comment on the amount involved.

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