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NFL Division One: Lavery’s return is fillip for Armagh

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Banned: Armagh's Brendan Donaghy (left)

Banned: Armagh's Brendan Donaghy (left)

©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Banned: Armagh's Brendan Donaghy (left)

Brendan Donaghy and Dessie Mone were comrades in arms when they lined out for UUJ against Cork Institute of Technology in the first round of the Sigerson Cup yesterday.

On Sunday they will be in opposite corners when Armagh host Monaghan in the second round of fixtures in Division One of the Allianz Football League.

While the two players represented UUJ in the McKenna Cup, they returned to inter-county duty for the opening round of league fixtures, Donaghy once more an imposing figure for Armagh despite their loss to Dublin and Mone proving inspirational in Monaghan’s surprise win over Galway.

Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke has special reason for welcoming James Lavery back into his starting line-up for the Athletic Grounds tie, too.

Lavery missed the game against Dublin, but his presence against Eamon McEnaney’s side, alongside James Toner, will mean that Charlie Vernon, outstanding against the Dubs, could be handed a roaming role.

It was Vernon’s spectacular first-half goal that fermented optimism within the Orchard County ranks, but Dublin finished strongly to win.

This puts more pressure on O’Rourke’s men to come up trumps on Sunday.

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However, Vinny Martin will be an absentee from the defence because of injury so Finian Moriarty, who went in as a sub against Dublin, starts.

O’Rourke retains faith with the bulk of the side that showed commendable spirit against the Dubs, although he will be hoping that his defence is rather more frugal on this occasion. “We gave away too much in the first-half against Dublin and we cannot afford to do that against Monaghan,” said O’Rourke.

“While I was pleased with aspects of our performance I feel we have to step up further now.”

Armagh had hoped to make the new-look Athletic Grounds a fortress, but a rather surprising defeat by St Mary’s, prior to their reversal against Dublin, has forced them to spike that ambition — for the moment at least.

Monaghan will make the short cross-border journey with confidence, knowing their fusion of old and new faces proved such a potent mix against Galway.

Monaghan boss Eamon McEnaney is still missing a number of familiar faces yet the spirit and attitude of his side are such that a second successive win is far from being out of the question.

“We know that Armagh are always a very formidable side and especially so at home,” said McEnaney. “This is the type of challenge that you have to face up to when you are in Division One — you can’t run away from it.”


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