Clarke: In-form Annaclone armed for top of the table clash

By Shaun Casey

ANNACLONE head into the lion’s den this weekend as they travel to Glenn for a Division Three top of the table clash and boss John Clarke hopes his side can upset the odds to nab a victory.

Clarke’s side currently sit in second place, one point off the unbeaten league leaders, and Annaclone are in fine form at the minute having won seven games on the trot following a first-round defeat to Clann na Banna.

“We play Glenn now on Friday night and it’s a big game. If we can win, we can go top of the table so we need to be ready,” said former Down footballer Clarke, who represented the Mourne County in the 2010 All-Ireland final against Cork.

“We lost our first game, which was very disappointing as it was a local derby, but we’ve won seven on the bounce since so we’re going well. We’re in a decent place but we know obviously this Friday is going to be a tough task.”

Glenn made it all the way to the last four of the Down Senior Championship last season and Clarke feels they are perhaps out of place.

“Glenn really shouldn’t be a Division Three team; they reached the Senior Championship semi-finals last year so we’re huge underdogs going into the game. Glenn, probably in most people’s eyes, are too good for Three and they’re unbeaten as well.

“But It’s a game the lads are looking forward to playing in, we’ll be well up for the game on Friday night. It’ll be a good test to see where we are as well, pitting ourselves against one of the top teams like Glenn.”

Like every club, Annaclone currently have a few players sidelined through injury while another couple have gone abroad for the summer, but Clarke is happy with where the squad is at the minute.

Their county man Kevin Anderson, Down’s sub goalkeeper, has played in a number of club league games but is currently on the injured list so he won’t be available for selection this weekend.

“We’ve a couple of boys just left last week away to Canada and Kevy Anderson, our goalkeeper, pulled his quad a couple of weeks ago. He’s out so that’s a loss for us and we’ve a couple of other injuries as well.

“But in general, we’ve a fairly strong squad and lads are getting opportunities and stepping up. We’re definitely not full strength but it’ll be good to get lads back in the next couple of weeks as well.”

This is Clarke’s second season in charge of Annaclone and he’s really enjoying his time in management.

“It’s enjoyable when you’re winning but it is challenging at times and there’s a lot of work to it.

“We’re trying to create a professional environment and we want the players to maximise their potential. It’s full on but it’s very enjoyable and there’s a good culture in Annaclone and a good group of lads there.”

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