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Double blow a worry for Armagh boss Grimley

By John Campbell

He may have had to absorb two setbacks in recent days but Paul Grimley’s finger has yet to stray towards the panic button.

Confirmation that Jamie Clarke will commence his global travels on Friday was quickly followed by uncertainty regarding skipper Ciaran McKeever’s availability for Saturday’s Division Two encounter against Louth.

Armagh boss Grimley retains a stiff upper lip as he plans for a game that could have a decided bearing on his team’s survival chances.

Four points from eight to date are not sufficient to dispel the apprehension that currently accompanies the team on a league journey that, while offering rays of hope, is nonetheless fraught with difficulties. The loss of the mercurial Clarke, who is not due back until the Ulster Championship commences, is undoubtedly a blow while the possible absence of McKeever could deny the side an inspirational presence.

“We knew that Jamie would be going so it’s no big surprise,” explains Grimley. “But with Ciaran having hurt his ankle against Derry on Saturday night this presents us with another problem.”

McKeever was forced to retire with the injury at Celtic Park when Armagh still managed to show a healthy ration of resolve and spirit to garner a precious point.

The St Patrick’s clubman has been in superb form this year and is proving instrumental in nurturing the new-found spirit now endemic in the much-changed Armagh side. Switched to wing-back by Grimley having occupied the centre-half-back position for several years, he is now afforded the opportunity to support his attack more, something that he clearly relishes.

Grimley says he has plenty of respect for a Louth side who have just three points to their credit and who lost to Wexford on Sunday (2-13 to 2-9).

“There are people like Paddy Keenan, whom I rate as one of the top six midfield players in the country, and Darran Clarke, an outstanding forward. Louth have traditionally had a terrific work ethic,” Grimely adds.

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