GAA Football

Injuries to Armagh duo raises concerns over split-season demands on players

Armagh's Ben Crealey and Donegal's Jason McKee clash at Clones last year. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

CONCERNS have been raised over the demands the GAA’s split-season is placing on players after Armagh duo Ben Crealey and Ciaran Higgins suffered groin injuries.

Maghery midfielder Crealey had surgery last weekend and is now facing at least six weeks’ out meaning he will miss the majority of, if not all, of Armagh’s National League Division One campaign. His clubmate Higgins, who also has a groin injury, is also facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Maghery, county champions in 2021, finished their season with defeat to Crossmaglen in a one-sided Armagh senior championship semi-final on October 8 meaning the Sean McDermott’s club duo, and their team-mate Brendan Haveron who is also ruled out with a groin injury, had only limited down-time before they returned to training with their county to prepare for the start of the 2023 season.

Higgins did see some action in the round one Dr McKenna Cup against Antrim but has been out injured since while Crealey hasn’t featured at all for Armagh this year.

Meanwhile, Armagh forward Conor Turbitt will return to action against Mayo at the newly-titled ‘Box-it Athletic Grounds’ on Sunday. The Clann Eireann attacker has served a one-match suspension dating back to Armagh’s All-Ireland quarter-final with Galway last summer.

However, the Orchardmen will once again be without regular centre half-back Greg McCabe. The Shane O’Neill’s defender is serving the second game of his two-match ban for the red card he was shown in the second half of the All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway which Armagh lost on penalties after a thrilling game that went to extra-time.

McCabe was a fraction late with a full-blooded tackle on Matthew Tierney and was sent off at Croke Park and won’t be available until the round three clash with Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park.

In the absence of McCabe and Higgins, Clann Eireann’s Barry McCambridge has slotted in at centre half-back and made his National League debut in Saturday night’s two-point victory over Monaghan.

Armagh have announced a three-year stadium sponsorship deal with cardboard box manufacturing company Box-It who have made a “significant commercial investment” in the county. The home of Armagh GAA will now be named ‘Box-It Athletic Grounds’

Armagh County Board chairman Paul McArdle said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Box-It as our new stadium sponsor. This is a significant investment in Armagh GAA which will have huge benefits as we work towards building success both on and off the pitch.

“As we finalise our new strategic plan, we will establish ambitious targets that will require resources to implement. This 3-year investment will certainly help us deliver on those priorities.”

Barry McAllister, Managing Director of Box-It, added: “It’s a huge privilege and honour to become the new stadium sponsor of the Athletic Grounds.

“The stadium is one of the top sporting venues in Ireland and has built a reputation for hosting major games over the past 12 years.

“We are proud to be associated with this iconic venue that creates a wonderful atmosphere and experience for visiting club and county teams, and fans right across Ireland. We look forward to working with and supporting Armagh GAA to build future success.”

GAA Football