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Vernon joy as Harps hit right note with McGeeney squad

By John Campbell

Not so long ago, Crossmaglen Rangers claimed a monopoly of places on the Armagh senior football team. But manager Kieran McGeeney has underlined a switch in the balance of power by naming five Harps players and five from Maghery in his initial 2017 squad.

Charlie Vernon, Paddy Morrison, Joe McElroy, Conor White and Simon McCoy have been handed the chance to put the city club well and truly on the map in the Dr McKenna Cup while Aidan Forker, Conor Mackle, Oisin Lappin, Ciaran Higgins and Ben Crealey will carry the flag for the loughshore club.

Harps have emerged as a more potent force in recent seasons without quite managing to claim a County Championship title but they will surely wish to take a leaf out of Maghery's book following the stunning triumph achieved by Shane McConville's side when they beat fancied St Patrick's, Cullyhanna in the 2016 final.

Vernon, the most experienced of the Harps quintet, has given a superb lead of late by winning an Inter-provincial Championship medal with Ulster and cementing his value to Armagh in their O'Fiaich Cup success last month.

And he's particularly delighted to be joined by his lesser experienced Harps colleagues in the county squad.

"It's great to see these guys get the chance to become regulars in the Armagh side and they will certainly help to keep the rest of us on our toes," stated Vernon.

"Obviously we face a tricky assignment against Derry on Sunday and even though we beat them in the semi-final of the O'Fiaich Cup in Crossmaglen, we reckon they will be a different proposition up at Owenbeg."

The Maghery contingent, meanwhile, will aim to replicate their Club Championship-winning form in the McKenna Cup. Following their game against Derry, Armagh must then confront Queen's and Down.

Armagh squad: C Vernon, P Morrison, J McElroy, S McCoy, C White (all Harps); A Forker, B Crealey, O Lappin, C Mackle, C Higgins (all Maghery); R Kearney, A Duffy (both Pearse Og); S. Sheridan, J Hall (both Forkhill); G McParland, R Grugan (both Ballymacnab), A Findon (St Peter's), D McKenna (Dromintee), S Campbell (Clan na gael), N Rowland (Culloville), P Casey (St Patrick's), O MacIomhiar (Annaghmore), E Rafferty (Granage), M Shields (Whitecross), P Hughes (Crossmaglen Rangers), A N Other.

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