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Mayo star relishing Orchard chance

Former Mayo player Billy Joe Padden created quite an impression when he was introduced as a second-half substitute into the Armagh team that pipped Down in the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup last weekend.

And he is one of the reasons why Orchard County supporters will descend on the new-look Athletic Grounds tomorrow to see how their team fares against unbeaten Antrim.

Padden has joined south Armagh club Carrickcruppen and is now bringing his all-action style to the county colours.

Son of Mayo legend Willie Joe Padden, he has inherited his father’s on-field industry and commitment. And he’s particularly keen to make the grade with Armagh.

“I enjoyed my time with Mayo and was fortunate to win some honours but now I’m very much an Armagh player. I know that competition for starting places is keen but I’m prepared to make my pitch,” says Padden who has publicly thanked Mayo supporters for their encouragement in the past.

He may start on the bench again tomorrow but looks certain to get game time against an Antrim side that has already beaten St Mary’s and drawn with Down.

Saffrons manager Liam Bradley will surely be looking for a healthier scoring return from play tomorrow. Paddy Cunningham landed nine of the team’s 12 points against Down with seven of them coming from frees.

CJ McGourty was an absentee but is expected to return as will long-serving Kevin Brady but Tómas McCann will be missing because of suspension having incurred a red card against Down.

Mark Dougan, Mark Sweeney and Dean O’Neill are three youngsters likely to get another chance in Antrim’s colours tomorrow.

Brendan Herron and Aodhan Gallagher have resumed their midfield partnership for the Saffrons while the defence, with seasoned performers like skipper Kevin O’Boyle, Justin Crozier, Tony Scullion and Andrew McLean included, is unlikely to yield too much.

“We have a number of players who can play in positions from midfield upwards and that will stand to us. Armagh will give us an idea where we are at right now,” says bossman Bradley.

Dungannon Swifts goalkeeper Sean O’Neill should get another run-out as Bradley fits the pieces of his selection jigsaw together.

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