By Shaun Casey
ARMAGH have no major injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s semi-final showdown with arch-rivals Down says Orchard coach Ciaran McKeever.
Armagh welcomed Andrew Murnin, Conor O’Neill and Jarly Óg Burns back into the starting line up as they saw off Cavan with five points to spare, with all three having missed the preliminary round win over Antrim.
Rian O’Neill was another who missed out the first day through injury, but returned to make a super, diving block in the dying minutes against Cavan. But Armagh were still down a couple of key men before throw in.
James Morgan made his first appearance of the year against the Saffron’s, but picked up an injury in training, as did Tiernan Kelly, while Barry McCambridge suffered a knock during the warm-up last Saturday evening, and Burns came in as a late replacement.
“There is nothing which is really a major concern,” said McKeever after the Cavan win. “I have said from day one that we’re thinking further down the line.
“If we hadn’t the safety net of the Super 16s, you probably would have seen those boys out on the pitch tonight. But we felt as though it wasn’t a match where we needed to risk them, and possibly put them in jeopardy for five weeks down the line.
“This is where people get bogged down. I have five provincial titles myself and I’m proud of them, and we would love for these boys to get their hands on one.
“But our main focus is making sure that we have a healthy squad. I have said it before, the Super 16s is when the football starts. The GAA want to go down a different route,” added the Cullyhanna man.
“They probably want to lose the provincial championships, because there are only two meaningful ones: Connacht and ourselves in Ulster. The other two are dead rubbers.
“We are in an Ulster semi-final next week, and we’ll be going to Clones to try and win the game. Wherever that takes us, it takes us, but we’re not firing all of our eggs in one basket.
“It’s hard to beat playing football. It keeps boys sharp, you can rotate your squad, which I think teams will need to do in the Super 16s anyway. So, the more minutes we get into boys’ legs, can help make our squad stronger for five weeks down the line.”