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Armagh may ring changes after Championship woe


By John Campbell

Charlie Vernon replaced as early as the 43rd minute, Jamie Clarke held scoreless from play and new skipper Rory Grugan called ashore with over 15 minutes left to go.

These stark statistics give an insight into the backdrop against which Armagh lost their Ulster Championship quarter-final tie to Down earlier this month.

And they will now help to focus the mind of acting boss John Toal and his backroom team as they put the finishing touches to their preparations for Sunday's vital All-Ireland qualifier against Fermanagh.

When Niall Grimley, Gavin McParland, Niall Rowland and Ciaron O'Hanlon in particular were spirited into the action from the bench in that game, they did enough to suggest that they will now be in the frame for starting places to face Peter McGrath's side.

With manager Kieran McGeeney still under suspension, Toal looks certain to call the shots on the touchline.

McGeeney watched the game against Down from a vantage point in the Pairc Esler grandstand, and is expected to observe Sunday's game from a similar position at what is expected to be a packed Athletic Grounds.

Grimley, meanwhile, could start at midfield or at half-forward, while McParland is normally at his best close to goal, although the Armagh full-forward line that started against Down - Clarke, Stefan Campbell and Andrew Murnin - may remain unchanged.

Murnin was Armagh's best player in that game - he scored one goal and might have had another - but Toal will be looking for a better collective approach against Fermanagh, who are likely to be without Declan McCusker and Ryan Jones, two hugely experienced players they can ill-afford to be without.

Belfast Telegraph


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