| 15.4°C Dublin

Grimley drops 14 players from 2012 Armagh squad

New Armagh football manager Paul Grimley has swept the decks following a clear-out of 14 players from the 2012 squad over the past few weeks.

Among them is Andy Mallon, the former All Star corner-back who has been involved with the county since 2003, when he played in the All-Ireland final against Tyrone.

Billy Joe Padden, who linked up with Armagh after years with Mayo, has also been released, as have long-serving players Malachy Mackin, Michael O'Rourke and Anton Duffy.

Grimley said it was necessary to make such sweeping changes because Armagh have been "drifting for too long". "Change is needed," he said.

Grimley has introduced 12 newcomers, including two of the Crossmaglen Rangers All-Ireland club championship-winning side, Paul McKeown and Stephen Finnegan.

It brings to seven the number of Crossmaglen players that are now in the Armagh squad, with Jamie Clarke, Aaron and Tony Kernan, James Morgan and Johnny Hanratty all still involved.

Oisin McConville was critical recently of the low number of Crossmaglen players that had made the Armagh team in recent years.

The promising Rory Grugan is also off the panel but is set to travel in the coming weeks.

Grimley said he has spoken to all the players released and explained the reasons behind his decision.

"Some of the lads gone have been injured in recent seasons, others have lost form," he said. "In Andy Mallon's case, he's living in Dublin now, has a young family and he's a player we will probably revisit in February or March."

He warned that further changes can't be ruled out once the new season gets under way.

"I'll be willing to cut some of the younger players some slack. It will take time to blood some of them. But the older players won't have the same time," he said. "They need to step up."

Irish Independent