'Medical staff must take you off when in doubt' - Clarke
Published 22/01/2016 | 02:30
After officially calling time on his playing days following a "freak" playing accident, former Armagh star Ronan Clarke is now setting his sights on managerial duties with the county's ladies footballers.
Having spent several days in an induced coma last August after colliding with a goalpost during a club match, Clarke received the all-clear but admits not playing competitively again is a "shock to the system".
The 2002 Young Footballer of the Year also hopes lessons will be learned from his experience with correct protocols enforced by medical teams to protect players. "I'd advise people to go straight to hospital and not take it lightly because it just hits you like a ton of bricks," Clarke said.
"I played on but I should have come off straight away, You'd like to play on but it has to come down to the medical staff to tell you to leave the field and take you off."
New challenges await for the recently-married 33-year-old, who takes the reins with Armagh's ladies, while also running his gym Clarke Fitness.
"I know in coaching and management, you don't get the same buzz as playing but at least you get some adrenaline because you're close to it, so it'll fill a little bit of the void for me," he said.
Clarke succeeds James Daly, who brought Armagh to Division 1 of the league, and having been under the wing of the likes of Joe Kernan, Paul Grimley and Tyrone's Paddy Tally, he has been well-schooled in management.
Already he sees little difference between the commitments made by males and females to their craft and feels both county teams are on an upward curve.
Having soldiered with football boss Kieran McGeeney during his playing days, he believes expectations were too high in his first season in charge and expects improvement this season.
"Jamie (Clarke) is a big loss but hopefully he can find someone to replace him who will get him scores but I wouldn't worry about Armagh at the minute," Clarke said. "They're still a developing side and I think they'll be competing for honours at the end of the year. It was his first year in and it takes time to develop a team, that's what he's trying to do and he'll improve them this year."
The former Allstar expects the race for Ulster honours to be the usual "minefield" but expects McGeeney to strive to get the extra percentages out of players in search of a first provincial final since 2008.
As for Clarke, the Armagh job is "way down the line" but after making a full recovery in less than six months, he's likely to continue upsetting the odds.