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Down boss Jim McCorry won't act hastily over Martin Clarke's return

By John Campbell

While Down fans continue to exercise patience in the hope of seeing Martin Clarke back in the county colours, the player himself is currently displaying his versatility away from the playing area.

The An Riocht clubman is the latest high-profile player to dip his toe into the media waters and has been the recipient of high praise for the articulate analysis he provided when the Tyrone v Cavan Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup final was televised live last weekend.

Clarke joins a distinguished list of recently-retired players now turned pundits that includes Peter Canavan, Ryan McMenamin, Daniel Hughes, Philip Jordan, Oisin McConville, Brendan Devenney and Enda McGinley among others.

But while his astute observations will almost certainly lead to more opportunities in the media sector, Down boss Jim McCorry is keen to see the former Australian Rules player back in the red and black jersey.

Clarke has been recovering from illness recently and McCorry continues to assess his progress.

"We have spoken with Martin and while we would be keen to have him back we don't want to rush things. We have had a 38-person squad up until recently. We have reviewed the position now that the McKenna Cup is complete and the focus switches very much onto our league opener against Kildare on Sunday," states McCorry.

The Down boss has been particularly impressed by the performances of players such as Gerard Collins, Packie Downey, Arthur McConville, Kieran Gordon and Chris McKay of late.

"These boys have come in and have taken their chance. They give us options and obviously we want to be as strong as possible for the league. It is going to be very competitive so we know what to expect. Everyone is aware that there is very little separating promotion and relegation and that's why it's important that we get into our stride as early as possible," stresses McCorry.

Following the trip to Kildare on Sunday, Down will meet Roscommon in their first home league game on Saturday February 7, a match that has been afforded an extra dimension after Roscommon's capture of the Connacht FBD League trophy on Sunday when they beat Galway by 4-8 to 1-12.

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