Missing Clarke not a concern for Cross – Kernan
CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS look set to complete their club campaign without star forward Jamie Clarke, who is still in the US.
The reigning Ulster champions face Kilcoo in an Ulster quarter-final on Sunday in Newry, a repeat of their contentious Ulster final last year which was the subject of an investigation into allegations that racial abuse had been directed at Crossmaglen's Aaron Cunningham.
Clarke (right) has missed Crossmaglen's entire Armagh championship campaign and, with no sign of an imminent return from New York, the club are now conditioned to being without him for as long as they are involved.
Crossmaglen manager Joe Kernan said he did not anticipate a return to the squad by Clarke and insisted the focus was on the players they have, not those who are missing – a list that includes his own son Paul, who continues to recover from a long-term shoulder injury, and fellow county defender James Morgan.
"We've got great commitment from everyone. In this club we never make an issue of players that are missing. We're missing a player with the greatest club career ever (Oisin McConville who has retired), but we get on with it. Players like Kyle Carragher, Callum Cummiskey and Stephen Finnegan, who has come back into the squad, have stepped up. Generally the handcuffs come off once we have negotiated the Armagh championship and we're looking forward to this one," said Kernan.
Clarke has been in New York since shortly after Armagh's qualifier defeat to Galway.
David McKenna was also away for much of the Armagh campaign, but returned in time for the semi-final.
Kernan has played down the prospect of any fall-out between the clubs rising from last year's Ulster final when an Ulster Council investigation resulted in a Kilcoo player being suspended for four months and a supporter being banned for life for alleged racial abuse.
"We'll be focusing on the football and keeping our heads. Jim McCorry is managing Kilcoo. I know Jim, obviously. I've played with him and I play golf with him. I'd be expecting two club teams from small communities playing with passion, but nothing more," he said.