Armagh miss goal hero Henderson
This time last year Ryan Henderson was yet again unveiling his rich potential in Armagh’s colours during the Dr McKenna Cup competition.
Today he is a key cog in the Donegal Celtic front line having grabbed his share of the festive sporting headlines with the spectacular headed goal that clinched a shock 2-0 win over Linfield.
With Henderson unavailable to him and both Ronan Clarke and Jamie Clarke ruled out of Sunday’s Dr McKenna Cup opener against Antrim at Crossmaglen, Armagh boss Paddy O’Rourke finds himself having to dig rather deeper into his resources.
And his dilemma is shared by his Antrim counterpart Liam Bradley. Cargin clubman Tómas McCann, like Henderson, has commitments with Donegal Celtic and does not appear ready to embrace the Saffrons at this point in time.
Bradley is hoping to discover if McCann can make a commitment in advance of the National League in which Antrim will be in a competitive Division Two that includes teams such as Derry, Tyrone, Donegal, Meath and Kildare.
For the moment though he will run the rule over some exciting newcomers in a bid to bulk up his strength in depth for the league.
Ulster champions Tyrone — they will be bidding to land a hat-trick of titles this year — will be propped up by a number of established players when they meet Donegal at Omagh on Sunday.
Former Fermanagh player Rory Gallagher, who won an All-Ireland Club championship medal with St Gall’s this year, has joined the Donegal management team and will be on sideline duty alongside Jim McGuinness.
McGuinness has outlined his desire to see pride, hunger and ambition restored within the Donegal squad and as McKenna Cup holders they will be keen to retain their trophy.
McGuinness has several experienced players to call upon including Paul Durcan, Kevin Cassidy, Karl Lacey, Rory Kavanagh and Neill Gallagher and he will also run his eye over Dermot Molloy, David Walsh, Leo McLoone and Paddy McGrath.
Meanwhile, new Derry manager John Brennan can’t wait to make his touchline debut against Monaghan at Celtic Park.
He has his heart set on making Derry a football force again and if strength of personality, commitment and attention to detail are to be taken as a gauge of what he might achieve, then the Oak Leaf county has cause for optimism.