Saturday 24 February 2018

Cross star Clarke admits uncertainty over his Armagh future

Jamie Clarke didn’t feature in the latter stages of the Armagh championship
Jamie Clarke didn’t feature in the latter stages of the Armagh championship
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Jamie Clarke's has admitted his Armagh inter-county career is facing an uncertain future.

Fresh from helping Crossmaglen Rangers lift an 11th Ulster club title with a convincing extra-time win over Scotstown, Clarke said he had not made any concrete plans beyond a potential All-Ireland final on St Patrick's Day.

"It's in the pipeline, I don't want to rush into anything yet," said Clarke of any return to Armagh.

Clarke didn't feature in the latter stages of the Armagh championship as he took off for New York after the county's exit from the qualifiers to Galway in July.

It is not clear if he will even be part of manager Kieran McGeeney's plans in 2016. "It has been a tough year and from my own point of view I have to think of my own future as well away from football. It's difficult to balance football and work at the moment.

"There is a lot to think about but ultimately, it's very difficult to leave the football behind. It pulls at the heart strings at times. At the minute, I'm playing it by ear and I don't want to make any rash decisions." But the lure of a third All-Ireland title is strong, he accepted.

"I'm committed to Cross' until the end of the year for definite, to the end of our All-Ireland campaign. I'll take it from there then."

"I suppose being away over the summer I knew I was going to miss part of the county championship. I was thinking of the bigger picture as well, down the line. To be back in another All-Ireland semi-final is great for us.

"They are a brilliant bunch of lads and especially with Oisin (McConville) and John (McEntee) in (as managers), I have won an All-Ireland with them and for those guys to manage me and this bunch of players now? You know we're on a great stepping stone."

It was Crossmaglen's 36th championship final win from 37 appearances at county, provincial and All-Ireland level in 20 years,

Meanwhile Crossmaglen joint-manager Oisin McConville has dismissed any suggestion that Aaron Kernan suffered concussion in the first half. Kernan took a blow to the face and had to be helped to the side of the field where he was checked over by a number of medics present.

McConville said yesterday that the tests he underwent were rigorous and established that there was no concussion before he resumed playing within minutes.

McConville said that as a club they were "well tuned in" to the dangers of concussion and cited the withdrawal of James Morgan from a first round championship match earlier this year as evidence of proper governance on the matter.

"Aaron was fine afterwards and the way he played illustrated that. He had all the tests to ensure he was okay to continue on. We'd be very satisfied that we have some of the best medical people in the province with us to inform us of what to do.

"He went to hospital but it was more out of concern for his hand. He was back with us in Crossmaglen that night," said McConville.

Irish Independent

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