Crossmaglen trio ready to answer call to county arms for Kerry clash
ARMAGH footballers will be boosted by the availability of a number of Crossmaglen Rangers players for Sunday's Allianz Football League clash with Kerry at the Athletic Grounds.
The south Armagh outfit line out today in the All-Ireland Club football final against Roscommon's St Brigid's at Croke Park.
However, Orchard selector Donal Murtagh says he's optimistic that they will be able to call on three Cross players for the showdown against the Kingdom.
"We haven't put any pressure on the Crossmaglen players to play on Sunday and if they want to take a break that's fine with us," said Murtagh, a former Crossmaglen player and manager himself.
"Between training sessions and matches, Crossmaglen have had a very long campaign over the winter, and it would be understandable if their players didn't want to come back to playing with the county immediately after the All-Ireland club final.
"But I've seen in the papers that Jamie Clarke has indicated that he will be available for the Kerry game, and I'd be optimistic that Aaron and Tony Kernan would be thinking along the same lines."
As well as the Crossmaglen players, Murtagh is also optimistic that manager Paddy O'Rourke will be able to select his starting line-up from all of the players who figured in last Sunday's 2-10 to 1-10 win over Mayo at Castlebar.
"We picked up a few niggling injures in the Mayo match, but thankfully, nothing of any real consequence," said Murtagh.
However, ace forward Ronan Clarke is still on the unavailable list as he continues his recovery from the Achilles tendon injury that has sidelined him since last year's league campaign.
As well as the clash with Kerry, the Pearse Og clubman is almost certainly out of the Orchard County's remaining two league ties -- at home to Galway on April 3 and away to Cork on April 10.
"Ronan is making good progress from his injury, but the championship match against Down (on May 28) is probably a more realistic target for him," explained Murtagh.
"At the moment, he is working away in an oxygen chamber and doing his rehab under the supervision of (specialist fitness trainer) Mike McGurn and the team doctors.
"On the previous occasion, Ronan probably came back a little too early from the same injury, and we don't want for the same mistake to be made this time.
"He's really champing at the bit to get back playing again, but we've got to ensure that we put the brakes on him and ensure that he doesn't come back before he is definitely 100pc recovered from the injury."