Clarke set to remain at St Paul’s

By Shaun Casey

ARMAGH legend Ronan Clarke is set to remain in charge of top Intermediate Championship contenders St Paul’s for a second season. In his first year, Clarke led the Lurgan side to the Intermediate final, but they were well beaten by Ulster champions Cullyhanna.

It was the third time in four years that St Paul’s reached the Intermediate decider and came up short. A late Shane O’Neill’s goal in the 2022 final denied them the title that they last collected in 2011 while Clan na Gael proved too strong in 2020.

Clarke, an All-Ireland winner with Armagh in 2002 when he was named Young Footballer of the Year, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the set up and St Paul’s will once again be among the favourites for championship glory next season.

Clarke’s former Armagh teammate Brendan Donaghy, who retired from the Orchard County at the end of the 2022 season, will once again lead his native club Clonmore into the upcoming season.

Donaghy, along with fellow player-manager James Grimley, led the Robert Emmets club to a Division 3A league title last season, but they crashed out of the championship at the semi-final stage, losing to Ballyhegan by the minimum of margins.

Division 1A league champions Clann Eireann, who lost to their arch-rivals Clan na Gael in the championship semi-final, will once again have manager Ruairi Lavery to call upon for a third year.

Lavery took over from Tommy Coleman after the Lurgan men ended a 58-year to claim a senior championship title in 2021. Clann Eireann remain one of the big hitters in the Orchard County.

Dromintee have held onto their manager and Culloville native Kieran Quinn as they compete in the top tier having earned promotion from Division 1B in 2023.

Former Armagh minor manager Brendan Hughes will return to Sarsfields for a third campaign in charge while ex-Antrim manager Frank Fitzsimmons stays with Lurgan side St Peter’s.

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