David McKenna can this week-end provide Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke with a reminder that he is capable of becoming a key cog in his engine-room next year.
Injuries and Crossmaglen Rangers’ ascent to the All-Ireland club throne restricted McKenna’s involvement with the Orchard County this term but the recent form of the 22-year-old will surely convince O’Rourke to assess his performance when he lines out with his club against Ballinderry in the Ulster semi-final on Sunday at Casement Park.
In both the Armagh championship final against Ballymacnab and the Ulster quarter-final against St Gall’s, McKenna’s ability to garner first-phase possession proved vital.
Joint managers Tony McEntee and Gareth O’Neill will again hand him a key role for the confrontation with the Derry champions who are likely to be without the abrasive James Conway as he is still short of match practice following his cruciate ligament injury.
McKenna’s aerial ability has triggered Crossmaglen’s midfield dominance in virtually all their matches to date but Ballinderry can deploy the vastly experienced Enda Muldoon in this sector.
Muldoon (32), is the only player still involved in club football in Derry who won an Ulster championship medal with the Oak Leaf county in 1998, the last time Derry took the provincial accolade and he is still a formidable force at midfield.
Sunday’s match though offers McKenna (pictured) a golden opportunity to fire out the message that he is in line to be considered as a first-choice midfielder for Armagh.
Meanwhile, UUJ club president John Farrell has highlighted the contribution that some past players from the university are making to the club championship.
“We had Andrew McLean, Kieran McGourty and CJ McGourty and we have of course Aaron Cunningham, James Morgan, David McKenna and Jamie Clarke from Crossmaglen,” points out Farrell.
“And virtually every other club in the competition has a player or players who have UUJ connections.”