GAA Football

Armagh goalkeeper Paddy Morrison will be fit for Cavan

Armagh goalkeeper Paddy Morrison (left) will be fully fit for the trip to Kingspan Breffni Park on May 29
Andy Watters

ARMAGH goalkeeper Paddy Morrison will be fit to make his Championship debut against Cavan on May 29.

The Armagh Harps clubman had suffered a back injury in training prior to the Orchard county’s final game in the National Football League, but The Irish News understands he will have recovered fully for the eagerly-awaited Ulster quarter-final clash at Kingspan Breffni Park.

The vocal netminder had replaced regular Matthew McNeice between the posts after the Orchard men lost heavily in Cavan town during an ill-fated National League campaign that ended with relegation to Division Three.

McNeice conceded three goals on a horror night for the entire Armagh team and Morrison wore the number one jersey for the rest of the league campaign. Kieran McGeeney’s side finished with two draws and a win and, during that run, Morrison conceded one goal - a last-minute major against Galway after the Armagh defence had been under siege.

A good communicator, he could be heard organising his defence, his kick-outs were accurate and he showed safe hands under pressure. His ability to deal with long-ball tactics should prove useful against Cavan, who like to target full-forward David Givney.

Morrison was forced off during Armagh’s final league game against Derry and, though he played in a recent challenge game against Donegal in Whitecross, McNeice took over for the friendly against Derry on May 7.

However, it is understood Morrison will be fully fit to reclaim his place when Armagh return to Breffni Park in less than two weeks’ time, intent on avenging that league defeat and booking an Ulster semi-final showdown against the winners of the Tyrone versus Derry quarter-final.

Meanwhile, Cavan have injury concerns over half-forward Dara McVeety (dead leg) and defender Jason McLoughlin (shoulder). Crosserlough clubman McVeety and attacking Bailieboro corner-back McLoughlin were both vital cogs in Cavan’s successful push for promotion this season.

They were injured in club fixtures, but manager Terry Hyland expects both to be fit for the visit of Armagh: “They were carrying knocks from club games, but Dara was running yesterday and there’s two weeks to go, so I’d be hoping they should be okay,” he said.

“Everything else is looking fine, a lot of things can happen in the next couple of weeks. Anything can happen with players in training between now and then but, apart from those two, we have a clean bill of health.”

Cavan haven’t played a competitive match since the Division Two final against Tyrone on April 24, while Armagh haven’t seen meaningful action since April 3. The winners of the May 29 quarter-final will have to wait three weeks for the semi-final and Hyland admits he finds the painstaking scheduling frustrating.

“You’d just like to get at it,” he said.

“That’s the downside to the Championship, the large gaps in between games. I would prefer it to be like the National League or even have two weeks in between games - there’s no reason why they couldn’t run them every two weeks or run two games on the same weekend and tighten the whole thing up.

“It’s all revenue streams and TV rights and things like that.”

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