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Frustration fuelled Armagh star Clarke's late burst

By John Campbell

Armagh fans have every reason for hoping that ace forward Jamie Clarke remains both angry and frustrated as their team prepare to cross swords with Galway in Round 2B of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.

By his own admission, it was a combination of those feelings that prompted the Crossmaglen Rangers man to launch the two-goal blast that ultimately carried his side into yesterday's All-Ireland Qualifiers second round draw at the expense of Wicklow.

It was not until the 65th minute of Saturday's clash at the Athletic Grounds that Clarke, who had scored four first-half points, really underlined his immense value to Armagh by thundering in the goals that sent gallant Wicklow tumbling out on a 2-17 to 2-7 scoreline.

"I was a little frustrated and angry up until then that we had not been getting the kind of possession we needed," conceded Clarke. "It was good to get the kind of balls that came in towards the end and we were able to kill the game off."

His 2-4 total emphasised his starring role in Armagh's victory and now the team's followers are keeping their fingers crossed that he will be just as pent up when Galway form the opposition in the next round of the qualifiers on Saturday week.

Clarke had been held scoreless in the Ulster Championship quarter-final defeat to Donegal and had entered the match against Wicklow anxious to lay down a marker for the summer.

"I was looking to bounce back from the last day. I thought that the game against Donegal was a disappointing day out for us, especially after all the preparation we had engaged. We had high expectations going in but it did not happen for us," reflected Clarke.

"We are back now through the back door. We had a good run last year and the hope is that we can build momentum again.

"Wicklow were good at retaining possession from their kick-outs and they were well organised. They took their scores well, too. But we have to look after our own game - we know ourselves within the camp how we are supposed to play and we have to aspire to achieving that."

Manager Kieran McGeeney is, like Clarke, convinced that Armagh can play much better.

"When you come up against tougher challenges you have to be ready. We have to be able to bring more to the table and the most important thing is that we make better use of the scoring chances," stated McGeeney.

"I said before the draw that no matter who we got it would be tough and now that we have Galway we will surely have our hands full."

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