Sean McCabe has set himself one of the most arduous tasks in gaelic football – and he will be looking to a player who has had just 15 minutes of inter-county championship action this year to help him achieve his goal.
Tyrone man McCabe is manager of Maghery who take on All Ireland club champs Crossmaglen Rangers tomorrow in the Armagh senior football championship aware that victory could transform the provincial club scene.
And McCabe, a self-confessed admirer of the Rangers, believes James Lavery can hold the key to his side giving an accomplished performance against the reigning title-holders who will be without Danny O’Callaghan, Jamie Clarke and Oisin McConville from their starting line-up.
Injury has disrupted Lavery’s season to such an extent that he was only able to fulfil a cameo role when Armagh made their exit from the All-Ireland qualifiers against Roscommon having missed the earlier Ulster Championship outing against Tyrone.
Since then, though, the burly midfield ace has reached peak fitness and McCabe, who hails from Clonoe, believes he can wield a big influence at the Morgan Athletic Grounds tomorrow night.
“I am delighted that James is now back to his best form. We certainly need him for a big game like this particularly as Crossmaglen are well served at midfield where they have two fine players in David McKenna and Johnny Hanratty,” says McCabe.
Describing Maghery’s championship record as “extremely modest”, McCabe points to awesome statistics that he feels will help to bolster the Rangers challenge.
“When you look at it they have won 39 Armagh titles, nine Ulster crowns and lifted the All-Ireland club honour on five occasions,” reflects McCabe.
“But we have to have belief in ourselves and go out and show just what we can do. I will be looking for a cohesive, disciplined performance from my team and we will see where that takes us.”
Lavery’s brother David as well Stefan and Aidan Forker are other key players in a Maghery side that has flattered to deceive in recent championships.
“The team has gone into games in the recent past expected to do well but have fallen short. We aim to try and go the extra mile this time,” insists McCabe.
Rangers last lost a championship tie in Armagh three years ago when they were beaten by Pearse Og in the quarter-finals.
Since then no side in the county has been able to challenge their dominance yet McCabe remains bullish about his team’s prospects.
“We have trained well, our attitude is good and we should be comfortable at the Morgan Athletic Grounds. This all should be a help for starters,” he adds.