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McGeeney faces selection headache ahead of big Ulster derby

 

John Campbell

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney is wrestling with a number of selection posers as he puts the finishing touches to his preparations for tomorrow's must-win Allianz Football League Division Two showdown against promotion-chasing Fermanagh.

With Stephen Sheridan ruled out following a two-game ban emanating from an incident in the game against Donegal, and James Morgan having unsuccessfully taken his appeal against the red card he received in the game to the Central Hearings Committee, McGeeney is forced to dig deeper into his resources.

The loss of Sheridan could see McGeeney turn to Charlie Vernon and perhaps Jarlath Og Burns to man his midfield given that Niall Grimley is among four players struggling to regain full fitness after injury.

Mark Shields, Aidan Forker and Brendan Donaghy, who between them carry a considerable raft of experience, are all understood to be still in the doubtful category.

With Fermanagh within striking distance of a place in Division One, manager Rory Gallagher is likely to retain faith in players such as Jonny Cassidy, Ultan Kelm and Kevin McDonnell for what he views as one of the most important games in the county's recent history.

Fermanagh are only one of four unbeaten sides in the country and their potential climb into Division One would seal back-to-back promotions.

Yet such is the tight nature of Division Two that victory for Armagh would leave them two points off Fermanagh with one round of games remaining, while a win for the Erne men puts them on the cusp of promotion ahead of their showdown with Meath.

In their last league game, Armagh are due to meet Cork at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday week and will not want to enter that contest fighting for their Division Two lives.

Derry manager Damian McErlain, meanwhile, is hoping to field a strong side against Leitrim - who have also been promoted from Division Four - when the sides meet tomorrow.

They will also meet again on March 30 in the Division Four final at Croke Park.

And Antrim manager Lenny Harbinson, confined to bed with flu this week, is without key players for tomorrow's match against Wicklow at Corrigan Park.

Antrim have only two points to their credit to date and simply cannot afford to slip up again if they are to regain a semblance of credibility from the league.

The absence of Peter Healy and Mark McSweeney will be felt, while long-term injury victim Conor Murray's scoring touch is also missed, although his brother Ryan has been doing his best to keep the family name up in lights by scoring consistently.

Antrim must face Limerick in their last game on Sunday week and that's not a mission that the side will look forward to if they are beaten again tomorrow.

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