Football

Kieran Donaghy hoping Armagh can unearth some gems in Club Allstar charity clash

Armagh coach Kieran Donaghy s now entering his fourth season in Kieran McGeeney’s management team
Armagh coach Kieran Donaghy s now entering his fourth season in Kieran McGeeney’s management team Armagh coach Kieran Donaghy s now entering his fourth season in Kieran McGeeney’s management team

KIERAN Donaghy is hoping to spot some fresh talent that can help push Armagh forward next season when the Orchard county runs its first-ever Club Allstar game this weekend.

The charity clash on Saturday at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds (5pm) sees the Club Allstar team, consisting of the best club players throughout the 2023 junior, intermediate and senior club championships take on a County Future Stars selection, made up of some of the emerging talent in the county.

The four-time All-Ireland winner believes Saturday’s event, which will raise funds for the Southern Area Hospice and new training facilities for Armagh, is the perfect chance to spot some new blood.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for talent spotting,” said the Kerry legend, who is now entering his fourth season in Kieran McGeeney’s management team.

“I think obviously the club guys have made the Allstar team because their performances all year have been at that stand-out level and then you have the Armagh selection which is guys that we’ve been looking at.

“They’ll get a good opportunity now to put on the orange and white and go and take on a really good team and there’s no better place or better environment to see where guys are at until their thrust into the middle of a big crowd.

“The Armagh crowd are probably the best in the country, the way they come out behind their team so I would say having them there in big numbers will also add that factor for the players and we’ll see how they thrive under that bit of spotlight and that bit of pressure.

“That’s something that you can’t really see in trial games, but this is a great initiative to see some of those qualities on view.”

The 2006 Young Footballer of the Year made his own Kerry breakthrough in similar fashion back in 2004. Donaghy was selected to play against the Kingdom for the ‘Underdogs’ and his performance in that “one-off game” proved a stepping stone to the green and gold jersey.

Stefan Campbell is one of a handful of Armagh county stars who will feature on the Club All-Stars team on Saturday
Stefan Campbell is one of a handful of Armagh county stars who will feature on the Club All-Stars team on Saturday Stefan Campbell is one of a handful of Armagh county stars who will feature on the Club All-Stars team on Saturday

Saturday also provides the newbies with a chance to come up against some of the best in the county as the likes of Rian and Oisin O’Neill along with Stefan Campbell, have been selected on the Club Allstar team.

“Obviously a lot of them are new to this type of level,” added Donaghy.

“We’ve tried to look on the youth side of it as well and giving those fellas chances and it will be a great opportunity for them.

“The Club Allstar team is stacked with the likes of Oisin O’Neill, Soupy (Stefan) Campbell, real top, top players. It reminds me in a way of myself starting out with the Underdogs, it’s the same type of feel of a game with a big crowd.

“It was Kerry playing against a bunch of underdogs, there were a few good Armagh men in that team with me as well. It was a one-off game, but you could see fellas who stood out in that game that were able to handle the pressure of the big crowd and the atmosphere.

“There’s a lot going on outside of the game but once five o’clock comes and the ball is thrown in, for those players it’s possibly the best chance they’ll get to make an impression on the night.

“That’s an impression on the fans that come in and indeed us as a management and even their fellow players that mightn’t be playing that will be watching on from the stand.

“It’s a real opportunity to see what they have to offer and no better place to do it.”