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Jamie Clarke is hoping his skipper makes final

By John Campbell

Jamie Clarke is not ruling Crossmaglen captain Stephen Kernan out of an AIB All-Ireland club final appearance but admits the reigning champions will plan without their skipper just in case.

The centre-forward received a straight red card in the Armagh side's semi-final win over Dr Crokes and his appeal against that decision was turned down last Thursday.

Kernan has lodged a further appeal and star forward Clarke reckons the skipper has a chance — but the team must plan for the worst.

And he admits that Kernan's loss would be Garrycastle's gain, given his creative qualities.

“We'll see how things go,” Clarke said after yesterday picking up his award in Dublin for being named the Ulster club player of the year.

“We have to plan without Stephen,” he said.

“Stephen's one of the younger captains we've had and he has been brilliant.

“He's a fantastic player, very skilful on the ball and he's set up most of my scores this year.

“He'd be a big miss now, but look, I think the same happened last year with Danny O'Callaghan in the semi-final and he appealed it and he got off.”

Paul Hearty is the club's vice- captain and would step into the void if Kernan’s appeal fails. And if that happens, Clarke believes they will use their skipper's absence as a motivating force.

“That's what he'd want us to do. He'd want us to keep our focus and we'll try and win it for him.”

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