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Armagh face up to life without Geezer


By Declan Bogue

Armagh stalwart Charlie Vernon has insisted that manager Kieran McGeeney's 12-week ban, ruling him out of the Ulster Championship quarter-final clash against Down, will not affect the players.

McGeeney was slapped with the sideline ban after a verbal confrontation with a matchday official during the course of their league win over Antrim in the National League.

If Armagh cannot successfully overturn it on appeal, it would leave the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain stuck in the stands until the week of the Ulster final, should they progress.

"Kieran hasn't discussed those things with us, we haven't discussed it with him. We are looking forward to our first round game and preparing for it the same as any other game," said Armagh Harps man Vernon.

He added with a light touch, "I haven't noticed him gone yet! He has been at all the trainings I have been to.

"Listen, the impact of that hasn't been felt yet, really. But as players we just concentrate on our own game, we leave that to everybody else to comment on."

Also present at the launch of the Ulster senior football Championship in Derry city last night was Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke, who won the Anglo-Celt in 2013 and 2015.

He confirmed that their midfield leader Darren Hughes is out for the preliminary opener against Fermanagh in Clones, with a grade three medial tear on his cruciate.

"It is a pretty severe injury but we have got a very able medical team, hopefully the quality of work they do with him will speed up the process," he said.

"Dessie Mone broke a bone in his wrist and he is just coming back to full contact work in the last week or so," added O'Rourke.

"He is still in good physical shape so he should be in contention for the Fermanagh game.

"The medical people will guide him on that. They are happy with his progress and hopefully that will stay the same and surgery will be the last option."

The Ulster Council confirmed that ticket prices for this year's Championship will remain the same, the eighth year of a ticket-price freeze.

Meanwhile, the Club Player's Association have issued an update of how their discussions with the GAA's power brokers are going regarding their bid to create a new fixtures calendar.

Urging the GAA to widen the remit of any further special Congress to debate the merits or otherwise of a possible 'Super 8s' for hurling, the CPA statement read; 'We sought also to communicate the view of our members that there is an opportunity here to act with some urgency to change the Fixtures landscape and remove the frustrations felt by grassroots GAA players."

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