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Armagh star Diarmuid Mardsen recovering from hamstring injury hell

Armagh's Diarmaid Marsden (left) recovered from injury to play a leading role in the Orchard county's All-Ireland success in 2002
Andy Watters

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ARMAGH'S 22-year-old striking star Diarmuid Marsden has reached another goal in his fight back from last year's hamstring injury hell.

Marsden played only 40 minutes inter-county football in 1996, against Derry in the Ulster Senior Championship first round. A specialist assessed the muscle damage last autumn and a series of exercises was devised to resolve the cause of his catalogue of recurring hamstring problems.

“We all hope it has worked and we are delighted that he is back in training, which is good news for Armagh,” said team spokesman Patrick Nugent.

Armagh, one point off the promotion pace in division two of the NFL, clash with mid-table Leitrim at Carrick-on-Shannon in round five. Laois and Louth are joint-top with three wins and a loss apiece, their respective defeats being inflicted by Armagh and Leitrim, which tends to emphasise the tightness of the division.

“A good result on Sunday puts you in contention for promotion and the play-offs, while a poor one could put you in the relegation zone. It's that tight,” said Nugent.

ALL-Ireland Senior B champions Fermanagh return to bread and butter basics on Sunday with the first of two NFL division four promotion plays in the space of seven days. After their championship high it's back to the business of collecting points as Pat King's outfit push to upgrade league status and qualify for the quarter-finals.

Paddy McGuinness and Paul Greene, two players who were sidelined through injury for much of the past year, are recalled for this weekend's tie against yet-to-win Kilkenny at Irvinestown. After an approach by Kilkenny officials, the game has been brought forward and will start at 1.30pm. McGuinness comes in for ‘flu hit Barry King while Greene replaces his brother Martin, who is ruled out because of ankle damage.

Tommy Callaghan is also drafted in. He features at left-back for Clive Fitzpatrick, who has not recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in the All-Ireland B final replay defeat of Longford in December.

Fermanagh will be going for a new all-time county record of consecutive matches unbeaten against the Noresiders.

A championship and league run nine games now provides them with a platform to challenge for promotion. A 100 percent start to the league places them in joint second with Carlow, Sligo and Waterford, and they have a match in hand over leaders Offaly.

Fermanagh: Cormac McAdam; Paul Courtney, Sean Breen, Tommy Callaghan; Raymond Curran, Paddy McGuinness, Justin Gilheaney; Paul Brewster, Liam McBarron; Kieran Donnelly, Colin Curran, Paul Greene; Raymond Gallagher, Rory Gallagher, Shane King.

Subs: Barry King, Michael Lilly, Kieran Gallagher, Fergal McCann, Colm Courtney, Stephen Maguire, Oliver McShea, Mark Gallagher.

CIARAN Hamill will return to inter-county football with Antrim on Sunday. The centre-half back goes into John Morrison's first 15 in place of Damien Hardy as the Saffron's aim to knock the wind out of Roscommon's division three promotional hopes and put Antrim back in the division two reckoning. Hamill has been out of the game for over three years.

He was ruled out by injury and family commitments. But now the solid 31-yearold Glenavy defender joins his brother Ronan in the Antrim side.

A home win would leave Antrim trailing Roscommon by two points but with a mountainous task ahead, their two remaining games against leaders Down, and a demanding away trip to Galway.

But “the Lord himself cannot push Antrim into the National League Division three promotional race, if the players do not have pride,” manager John Morrison said last night.

“We have two tasks, one to stay above a relegation threat and the second to stay in promotional contention,” he added.

“We can get into the more positive mode if we beat Roscommon. We owe them one after that hammering they gave us, the worst display I have ever seen as Antrim manager.

“We have a chance to get that game out of our system and push ourselves against Down and Galway. I aim for three wins from three, there's nothing beyond the bounds of reason in this game. “We have the attitude but we must have the pride to take on the likes of Roscommon who are hellbent on winning promotion.”

Antrim: B Devlin, M Mulholland, P Grattan, E McCorry, D McPeake, C Hamill, G Adams, E Quinn, C O'Neill, K Madden, A Craig, C McCabe, T Connolly, R Hamill, P Derby

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