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Faloon is hoping his depleted Armagh can clinch Cup delight

Injury woe: Willie Faloon has a number of selection issues
Injury woe: Willie Faloon has a number of selection issues

By Ronnie Ingram

Armagh II may have lost only once so far this season, but they nonetheless face a most difficult task against Towns' Cup holders Enniskillen in the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup final at Kingspan Stadium this evening (7.30pm).

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Armagh, who last won the trophy 10 seasons ago before their firsts qualified for the All-Ireland League, have a number of issues ahead of the decider.

Coach Willie Faloon said: "We know Enniskillen will be tough up front and that's where we have a few problems.

"We were allowed seven replacements for our unsuccessful Bateman Cup semi-final last Saturday and a number of our seconds travelled.

"Unfortunately hooker Andrew Morton sustained an ankle strain so he is not included in the squad.

"Also, we have had at least four props injured over the past few weeks so we will not be as strong as we would like."

Armagh's strength lies in their backs, with scrum-half Alex Johnston, just out of the Royal School, showing a lot of talent.

He has been combining well with the experienced Harry Boyd, and with Stuart Lester and captain John Faloon outside them, the Palace Grounds backs have plenty of punch.

Dave Agnew, Mervyn Brown and Glen Faloon make up a talented back three, but they will certainly need to win a lot of ball to showcase their talents. Coach Faloon remains optimistic but feels the conditions may not be ideal for his squad.

"Rain is forecast and the ground may be heavy, while we would prefer calmer weather to allow our backs to show their capabilities," he added.

Enniskillen have never won the competition and have played all four of their ties away from home.

Coach Stevie Welsh is hoping to add another trophy to their cabinet.

"After winning the Towns' Cup we have concentrated on the Junior Cup and are in the right frame of mind for the final," he said. "Our pack is bolstered by the presence of our power men David Buchanan and Gavin Warrington, and we have a top-class half-back pairing in John Maguire and Nick Finlay."

Maguire has been in Australia for the past few weeks and makes a welcome return to take over from Finlay, who has played at out-half in his absence.

One person they will miss is the injured Alex Parke, their full-back who has scored 13 tries so far this season.

Versatile back Mark O'Shea will move from the wing but has played as the last line of defence on many occasions.

Welsh doesn't know what to expect against Armagh.

"We have not played them yet but I know that under the excellent set-up they have and the coaching skills of Willie Faloon they will be a force to be reckoned with," he concluded.

ARMAGH II: E O'Hagan, J Treanor, P Lamb, O Millar, S Morton, G McNeice, H Ferguson, J Morton, A Johnston, H Boyd, G Faloon, S Lester, J Faloon (c), D Agnew, M Brown.

Replacements: A Smyth, A White, R Morton, J Agnew, L Crozier.

ENNISKILLEN: G Warrington, R Cathcart, G Beatty (c), D Buchanan, J Kelly, J Rutledge, J Harte, J Charleston, N Finlay, J Maguire, C Hoy, H Manuel, J Ferguson, A Keys, M O'Shea.

Replacements: S Fox, A Ferguson, G Parke, J Kennedy, M Deane.

Referee: R McGreer

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