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Lavery can help hold the Armagh middle ground

29 January 2009

From Belfast Telegraph
Tuesday, 27 January 2009

James Lavery may not have enjoyed the best of good fortune during the Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup campaign.

The Armagh ace hurt himself while preparing for his team’s opening joust with Antrim and his involvement in the competition became rather more restricted than had been anticipated.

But the strapping midfielder is now in the frame for a starting place against Wexford in Sunday’s opening round of National League fixtures.

Lavery, rated highly by Armagh manager Peter McDonnell, is one of several contenders for the two engine-room berths against the team that jeopardised the orchard county’s ambitions of All Ireland glory last year when they rather surprisingly came out on top at the quarter-final stage.

That result, built on an out of the blue goal from Mattie Forde, left Armagh players and fans devastated - and a subsequent six-hour journey home from Croke Park through dangerous flood waters did nothing to lighten the mood of their fans.

But on Sunday, McDonnell’s boys hope to gain a measure of revenge for that setback although their opponents are fired up to make it a double success over the Ulster champions.

Manager McDonnell, heartened by aspects of his team’s journey through the McKenna Cup, hopes that Paul McGrane, Kieran Toner, Charlie Vernon and Paul Courtney will all be in the frame.

“James Lavery was unfortunate at the outset of the McKenna Cup but he is a quality player. I think our fitness levels have improved and we are keen to get our league campaign off on the right foot,” points out McDonnell.


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