Sports

And so it begins

Thursday, 1 December 2016

And so it begins thumbnailKieran McGeeney will be hoping for a more progressive season in 2017 and he will be looking to defeat Derry this Sunday at St. Oliver Plunkett Park in the O'Fiaich Cup.

THIS Sunday sees Armagh start their 2017 season early with a trip to Saint Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen to play the 'Oak Leaf' county, Derry in the first semi-final of the 2017 O'Fiaich Cup. (Throw-in is at 1.30pm).

Armagh are back in formal training about a month and so on Sunday we can't expect a contest of 'summer game intensity'.

Few counties have announced squads for the new season and so it will largely be members of last season's squad who will line out on Sunday.

Players who are most likely to be available include Patrick Morrison and Matthew McNeice (goal-keepers), Ciaran McKeever, Charlie Vernon, James Morgan, Paul Hughes, Shea Heffron, Aidan Forker, Aaron Findon, Ruairi Grugan, Joe McElroy, Stephen Sheridan, Ethan Rafferty, Pearse Casey, Rory McCaughley, Colm Watters, Stefan Campbell, Gavin McParland, Niall Grimley, Cathal McKenna, Jemar Hall, Oisin Maciomhair, Aaron McKay and Aidan Rushe.

It appears that Andrew Murnin, Kevin Dyas, Mark Shields and Ciaron O'Hanlon are in various stages of rehab but ultimately all will be back.

There is 'no decision' yet on whether Andy Mallon and Tony Kernan can commit to another season.

It is known that Miceal McKenna will be taking a year out.

A number of potential 'new' boys have been trialled these past few weeks and some may make it onto the fringes of the provisional squad that will be used in the O'Fiaich Cup, eg, Jack Grugan, Ben Crealey, Ciaran Higgins, Oisin O'Neill, Conor Mackle, Conor White, Simon McCoy, Johnny McGill and Stephen Fox.

Derry manager, Damien Barton and his assistants are also pondering over the composition of a squad that has suffered a number of high profile opt outs in recent years and with Slaughtneil players unlikely to be available for the Armagh game.

Thus Damien Barton will face the Orchard with a much weaker side than he thought he could have.

In the past, Tyrone have been the only county to declare that they intended to win the O'Fiaich Cup.

Perhaps this year Armagh might take the attitude that for every competition they take part in they are 'in it to win it' beginning with the O'Fiaich Cup.

There have been no announced changes to Kieran McGeeney's back-room staff as he enters his third season in charge of Armagh.

I, on behalf of myself and the gaels of Armagh, wish Kieran and his team success in each competition this season.

I appeal to all genuine supporters to make their support strong, visible and unwavering in the year ahead.

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