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Rangers stars not ready for Armagh return

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Paul Grimley is resigned to being without his Crossmaglen Rangers contingent "for a little while" yet as he focuses on Saturday's all-important re-arranged Allianz League meeting with Wexford at the Athletic Grounds.

Rangers defeat by St Brigid's in the All-Ireland club semi-final at the weekend sent shock waves through Ulster football and Grimley now believes that players from the club whom he had selected for his squad deserve a break.

"It must be remembered that Rangers have been playing for three years now without a break and these boys deserve to have some down time with their families," says Grimley, "We may be without them for a little while."

This weekend's clash with Wexford heralds a sustained itinerary of five matches in as many weeks for his team and this is one of the reasons why he prefers to see his Crossmaglen players take their break now.

"It may well be that they could be back with us before the end of the league which would be great," added Grimley.

"But we have to remember that our Ulster championship preliminary round tie against Cavan is in early May and we will certainly need everyone on board for that so that's why the Rangers players deserve to catch their breath at this juncture.

"I am genuinely sorry that Crossmaglen were thwarted in their bid to land what would have been a third All-Ireland club title on the trot. Obviously they have long since been assured of their pace in the GAA history books but the manner in which they kept raising the bar for themselves showed their commitment and pride. To lose a semi-final by a solitary point is never a pleasant experience especially when so much is at stake."

Even though Rangers were then fully immersed in preparations for Saturday's tie, the club's county squad members were with the Armagh panel for the Dr McKenna Cup games against Down and Cavan and the league defeat by Laois.

"I said at the time that I was delighted to have these lads in the dressing-room for those games and I meant it. They might not have been available for selection but their very presence served to boost the side and show the younger boys in particular just what they have to try and aim at," explains Grimley.

Having already lost to Laois, Armagh simply cannot afford to drop another two points in a Division Two which is particularly competitive.

The Orchard County have received a timely boost, however, now that long-serving full-back Brendan Donaghy is returning to full fitness following surgery.

The Clonmore clubman has not played for Armagh this year but will be on the bench for the visit of Wexford.

Charlie Vernon is recovering from a broken bone in his foot but is hoping to be back before the end of the league.

Belfast Telegraph


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