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McConnell keen for Armagh to restore pride after setbacks

 

By John Campbell

These are grim times for Armagh hurling. Relegated in the league, weakened by injuries and ripped asunder by Antrim in last week’s Ulster final, Sylvester McConnell’s men will seek redemption when they meet Donegal in the Nicky Rackard Cup at Letterkenny today (2pm).

For a team that had initially targeted promotion and hoped to upset the provincial championship applecart, life has delivered almost unbearable pressure.

Yet despite the travails which have been heaped on his side, manager McConnell remains optimistic that a light will come into view at the end of what is a dark tunnel this afternoon.

“We obviously were not granted the breathing space we sought in relation to recent fixtures but now we have to roll up our sleeves and get on with things as best we can, that’s the challenge,” stated McConnell.

Nathan Curry, Cathal Carvill, John Corvan, Ciaran Clifford, Simon Doherty and Shea Gaffney will underpin the side for what promises to be a real test of character as much as skill.

Also in the Nicky Rackard Cup, Tyrone will seek solace following their Ulster Shield final defeat to Derry when they face Monaghan while the Oak Leaf side themselves look more than capable of surging past Louth.

Former Antrim ace Liam Watson is expected to be in the Warwickshire side that will confront Cavan in the Lory Meagher Cup. Cavan are making a welcome return to senior inter-county hurling but will find Watson a hot handful.

Also in the Lory Meagher Cup, Fermanagh will place their faith in young guns against Leitrim.

Tipperary will go into tomorrow’s Allianz League hurling league final against Galway at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick without ace marksman Seamus Callinan, who has a broken thumb.

Callinan has been in superb form for Michael Ryan’s side of late and in his absence the McGrath brothers Noel and John, who shared in the goal blitz that decimated Wexford in the semi-final last weekend, can now step up to the plate.

Galway finished strongly against Limerick in their semi-final and have shown a marked appetite for success this year although Tipperary’s resilient defence could hold the key to victory.

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