James Morgan likely to feature in Armagh's clash with Cavan
JAMES MORGAN looks certain to be available for Armagh’s Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final against Cavan.
The Crossmaglen defender had been sidelined to have surgery on a persistent wrist injury, but had recovered sufficiently to play back-to-back games for club and county last weekend.
Last Friday night, the tenacious man-marking corner-back was in superb form as the Armagh and Ulster champions beat Wolfe Tone’s in the senior league. The following day, he returned to county colours to help Kieran McGeeney’s side beat Derry 2-18 to 0-14 in a challenge match.
Morgan’s return will offset the losses of Kevin Dyas, Jamie Clarke and Caolan Rafferty for the Breffni Park showdown on May 29 and is a huge boost to manager McGeeney.
Morgan missed the early stages of Armagh’s league campaign because of his involvement in Crossmaglen’s All-Ireland club championship run. After the Rangers exited at the semi-final stage against Castlebar Mitchel's, he did return to the Orchard fold and featured as a black card replacement for Colm Watters in the one-point win against Fermanagh in late February.
However, in early March, it emerged he wasn’t expected to see any further action and manager McGeeney seemed resigned to losing him for the season: “He will be a huge loss to us because he is a great fella to have around the team as well,” McGeeney said at the time.
However, since then Morgan has appeared regularly for Crossmaglen and has benefited from new manager Gareth O’Neill’s policy of blooding emerging young players in the early stages of Armagh’s senior league.
Morgan has been one of only a handful of seasoned campaigners to feature but, despite that, the Rangers, who are expected to be without a number of players during the summer including USA-bound former county corner-back Paul Hughes, have beaten Wolfe Tone’s and Ballymacnab and lost narrowly to Cathedral city pair Pearse Og and Armagh Harps.
Morgan’s return to fitness is an unexpected bonus for the Armagh camp as they prepare to lock horns with the Cavan side who hammered them 3-18 to 0-10 in the league. He wore the number seven shirt last Saturday when two goals from Grange clubman Micheal McKenna saw Armagh to victory in a high-scoring challenge game in Tullysaran.
More significant than the result was the fact Ciaran McKeever made his second start in a week alongside experienced Clonmore defender Brendan Donaghy, who has also been plagued by injuries over recent seasons.
Meanwhile, Armagh fans are invited to an open day at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday, starting at 11am. Fans will have the opportunity to meet and greet Armagh players and management teams from across the codes and all the children attending will receive a goody bag with GAA memorabilia as well as an autograph book.
There will also be tours of the Athletic Grounds available in Irish and English, conducted by some of the senior footballers, and children will have an opportunity to take part in a number of GAA skills games and competitions, including a penalty-kick competition. Entertainment will be provided by some of the Orchard county’s Scor champions.