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Armagh facing the wrath of Croke Park chiefs after breaking training camp rule

 

By Martin Breheny and John Campbell

Armagh are heading for a showdown with Croke Park over a warm-weather training camp which is against GAA rules.

It's understood that the Orchard County squad have travelled to Portugal for intensive training ahead of their Ulster Championship quarter-final clash with Fermanagh in Enniskillen on May 19.

GAA rules preclude full-time training camps unless they take place in the 10-day period before a county's first provincial Championship game.

The penalty for violation is loss of home venue for one game in the following year's Allianz League.

If Armagh, who won promotion to Division Two this year, are found to have breached the rules, they will forego home advantage for their first league game scheduled for the Athletic Grounds next year.

That would lead to a loss of revenue from ground rent as well as reducing their chances of picking up the points in what will be a very competitive group.

They will also face a strong reprimand from Croke Park, who are monitoring the application of the training camp rule.

The ban on training camps in April was brought in to create more room for club activity.

And, while there has been mixed reaction to leaving the month free of county games, it's now an official regulation.

Armagh are not the only county facing possible sanctions.

It's understood that Croke Park are also examining reports that some other counties have been on training weekends this month. They too could be facing the loss of a home league fixture in 2019.

Games administration manager Fergal McGill said: "The rules about all of this are clear and if we find they have been breached by any county the agreed sanctions will be imposed."

Meanwhile, Armagh assistant manager Jim McCorry has fired out a strong warning in advance of his team's Ulster Championship meeting with Fermanagh.

The Orchard County may have drawn with Rory Gallagher's side in their league game and proved their masters in the Division Three final, but McCorry pulls no punches in his assessment of their forthcoming task at Brewster Park in Enniskillen.

"What we did in the two games will count for nothing in this encounter," said former Kilcoo and Down boss McCorry.

"This will be the real deal, red-hot Championship football and it's going to be a different kettle of fish altogether.

"Having said that, our players are working very hard and you can take it from me that Kieran McGeeney brought them down to earth with a bump following their victory at Croke Park.

"We know we have lots of things to work on but the spirit within the camp is so good that people would think the team are more akin to a club side.

"At the same time, the players don't need to be told that their display against Fermanagh in the earlier stages of the league and their performance in the league final may have been good on those occasions, but that level of play would certainly not be up to the mark for the Championship.

"People talk about winning Ulster, the Super-8s and all the rest of it, but the reality is that all we are talking about at the minute is one game. That's the be all and end all."

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