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'Learning curve' for Clarke at Saffrons

By John Campbell

Armagh women's football team manager Ronan Clarke may have garnered All-Ireland honours during his illustrious playing career in the county's colours but he admits he is "still learning the ropes" in his current role.

And Clarke, proprietor of a flourishing fitness gymnasium in the Primatial City, expects to add to his knowledge when his team pit their skills against Dublin in a National League Division One tie at the Athletic Grounds tomorrow (12 noon).

"I learn every day. I always tell the girls I don't know everything, so hopefully a bit of my experience can rub off on them," he says.

The match will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Armagh v Derry Allianz League Division Two match and this being the case, the Orchard County girls can expect to benefit from stronger vocal backing than usual from the early arrivals.

Indeed, such support will surely be welcome as Armagh will be bidding to arrest a decline in fortunes after winning their first three games.

They have lost their last two games, the most recent defeat coming against Galway, and Clarke is keen to see the team's graph begin to take an upward swing.

Dublin hammered Tyrone by 3-18 to 0-1 in their last outing and will come to the Athletic Grounds determined to maintain their current surge.

Blaithin Mackin, Aoife McCoy and Sinead Finnegan will have key roles in the Armagh side which must show improved discipline having had Lauren McConville and Sharon Reel sin-binned in the game against Galway.

Meanwhile, Tyrone face a difficult test against Mayo who look set to take another step in their quest for the title while in Division Two Down, beaten 8-16 to 2-11 by Tipperary in their last game, could struggle against Waterford.

Fermanagh will not find things easy against Offaly in the same division while in Division Four, the Antrim girls will seek to build on their recent fine win over Louth when they face Longford.

Belfast Telegraph


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