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Monaghan fear for talisman McManus

By John Campbell

Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney has growing concerns about the fitness of the free-scoring Conor McManus as Sunday’s Ulster Championship first round confrontation with Armagh at Casement Park, Belfast looms.

University of Ulster student McManus is understood to have a recurring problem with the wrist which he damaged while playing for his club Clontibret against Scotstown late last year.

The injury kept him out of the UUJ side which participated in the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup and restricted his involvement in the National League. McManus has been wearing a protective shield on his wrist but the bone which was initially broken has now suffered further damage.

Having initially made an impact in the half-back line with Monaghan, 22-year-old McManus was subsequently promoted to the attack where his scoring exploits — when fully fit — have helped to underpin the team’s tenure in Division One of the league.

McManus has made no secret of his ambition to help Monaghan become a force in the Ulster Championship in tandem with his UUJ colleagues Dessie Mone and Darren Hughes both of whom are first-choice players for Sunday’s showdown.

While Dermot Malone and Colm Greenan have already been ruled out of the Monaghan squad because of knee injuries, whether they would have made the starting line-up is debatable.

During the National League experienced players such as Gary McQuaid, Damien Freeman, Eoin Lennon and John Paul Mone were unavailable for different reasons but now that they are very much back in the frame manager man

ager McEnaney will be placing his faith once again in his old guard given the importance of this particular contest.

With Armagh certain to start without Ronan Clarke this means that both teams could be missing key forwards.

Clarke has made progress but is singularly lacking in match practice and given that this Sunday’s game is expected to be one of the most intense in the championship overall to date he is unlikely to be risked.

And Orchard County boss Paddy O’Rourke will take no chances either with midfielder James Lavery who limped out of the action in the preliminary round victory over Derry.

The sturdy Maghery clubman has been unable to take a full part in training this week which means that O’Rourke is likely to start Charlie Vernon and Kieran Toner as his midfield partnership.

ARMAGH (probable): P Hearty; A Mallon, B Donaghy, V Martin (or B Shannon); P Duffy, C McKeever, F Moriarty; C Vernon, K Toner; M Mackin, A Kernan, G Swift; R Henderson (or J Clarke), S McDonnell, B Mallon.

MONAGHAN (probable): S Duffy; D Mone, J P Mone, D McArdle; D Freeman, G McQuaid, D Hughes; E Lennon, P Finlay; D Clerkin, R Woods, S Gollogly; C McManus (or C Hanratty), V Corey, T Freeman.

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