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Armagh manager Paul Grimley is boosted by return of helpful duo

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Paul Grimley has received an unexpected double pre-Christmas bonus.

Both Jamie Clarke and Andy Mallon have returned to his squad, thus strengthening his hand considerably for the 2014 campaign.

Clarke has just returned from travelling in the US and Canada while Mallon, who has not worn the county jersey for the best part of two years because he has been domiciled in Dublin, now finds that he can give renewed commitment even though this will entail commuting from the Republic.

Clarke missed out on Crossmaglen Rangers' abortive bid to reach the Ulster club final but attended an Armagh training session at the weekend which was held indoors.

And manager Grimley is delighted with his current levels of fitness and stamina. "Jamie has kept himself in good shape – I think it's fair to say that he's as fit as ever," said Grimley.

Mallon, an electrical contractor, will continue to live in Dublin but his business interests and domestic commitments are currently such that he feels he can dedicate himself again to bringing success to Armagh.

"Both Jamie and Andy have been absolutely transparent with me all along the line and it's tremendous to have them both back on board," states Grimley.

Mallon (30) is one of Armagh's longest-serving players and looks set to be given a role in defence.

The return to fitness, too, of midfield ace Charlie Vernon is yet another boost for Grimley who was forced to do without a string of players this year for a variety of reasons.

However, Kevin Dyas will not figure in his plans for 2014 as he intends to undertake global travelling from April onwards.

Dyas was one of Armagh's more consistent performers over the past two years and while he is sorry to lose him, Grimley stresses that he requires "absolute commitment" from his players.

"Absolute commitment is essential if Armagh is to regain credibility. We would like to make a good start to the season," he said.

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