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Declan Bogue: Armagh jet off to defy the training ban once again

Sun break: Kieran McGeeney and Armagh are off to the Algarve
Sun break: Kieran McGeeney and Armagh are off to the Algarve
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

How is the club-only month of April for you?

Not too stressful at all if you are a county footballer from Armagh, it would seem.

Kieran McGeeney's men headed off to the Algarve yesterday morning for a warm-weather training camp and are due back on Sunday.

The Orchard were one of the four counties that lost home advantage for a National League game after being found in contravention of Rule 6.22 (b), which states: "Senior inter-county panels shall not be permitted to go on training weekends, or training of longer duration, after the final of their respective National League having been played, except during the 10-day period prior to a senior Championship game, or during the 17 days prior to an All-Ireland senior final."

After breaking that law, Armagh were forced to play one of their home league games in Newry - the Round 2 draw against Clare. Given that they meet Down in the same venue this summer in the Ulster Championship, they might have thought the punishment was one worth taking.

Either way, they have set off again. Where they might expect some leniency from GAA authorities comes in the fixtures drawn up in the county.

The entire Easter weekend has been kept free of all senior fixtures.

However, while the panel will not be missing any league games with their clubs, Armagh were in the exact same situation last year.

They arrived back from a warm-weather training camp and assistant manager Jim McCorry attended the Ulster Championship launch in Strabane, where he explained that they were confident they were not guilty of any wrongdoing.

"Even in terms of the games as well, Armagh players all played the first three games in April. They were released for that and they were allowed to play in the fourth game," McCorry outlined.

"We had an understanding with the clubs that they could have that game back when we came back from the camp. There were no rules broken in the way we understood it. We were complying with what the regulations say."

The next step from the disciplinary bodies that enforce this policy will be interesting.

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