Kelly keen to see Armagh hurl out a league warning
New Armagh hurling boss Paddy Kelly was not quite prepared for facing into his first competitive assignment of the new season without a galaxy of top players.
Middletown's meeting with Cork and Munster champions Kanturk in tomorrow's All-Ireland intermediate club semi-final means that Kelly will be shorn of a raft of experience for the Orchard county's Allianz League Division 2B clash with Wicklow at Bray 24 hours later.
Kelly heads up a restructured Armagh management team that includes former Down player Rory McGrattan and ex-Wexford ace James Doyle.
Kelly is particularly keen to see his side make a winning start to the competition as a prelude to their forthcoming games against Derry, Down, Mayo and Donegal.
Armagh must go to Derry and Down while they will host Mayo and Donegal at the Athletic Grounds.
The anticipated absence of players such as Ryan Gaffney, Kieran McKernan, Nathan Curry, Cathal Carvill and David Carvill - all of whom will be on duty with Middletown - could impact on the Orchard county's prospects against a Wicklow side that invariably prove difficult opponents.
But although he has cause to rue his absentees, Kelly can still look to players such as Simon Doherty, Ciaran Clifford and John Corvan to fire up his team.
Armagh county board vice-chairman Liam Ross, who held the role of hurling board officer for five years up until last year, believes that a win over Wicklow would be an ideal early tonic.
"Obviously we are delighted to see Middletown in the All-Ireland semi-final but at the same time we would like to see the county team make a winning start to their league campaign," points out Ross.