Armagh Agony as Clarke Ruled out for Another Season
Byline: PAUL KEANE
INJURY-plagued attacker Ronan Clarke will not play for Armagh this year but boss Paddy O'Rourke insists a serious Achilles injury is not going to retire the All-Ireland medallist. O'Rourke confirmed yesterday that two-time All-Star Clarke will sit out his second consecutive summer due to an Achilles tendon problem.
Clarke aggravated the troublesome injury approaching the 2010 Championship and was forced to withdraw from action for the entire campaign as a result. It's a similar story 12 months on as a setback suffered recently is understood to have ended any hopes of the big Pearse Og man featuring this year either.
Manager O'Rourke had already ruled the 2002 All-Ireland final hero out of Saturday week's Ulster SFC opener with neighbours and huge rivals Down.
The news that the player will not be available at all this summer will come as a massive blow to Armagh fans, however, and surely diminishes their chances of regaining the Ulster title which they last won when Clarke starred in 2008. For Clarke himself there is now a major question as to whether he can return from the career-threatening injury to play for Armagh again, particularly as he must undergo surgery which O'Rourke described as 'the last resort'.
Asked whether he feared for Clarke's career, O'Rourke responded: 'Not really. I have seen how he has applied himself to try and get back.
'I think if the operation is successful he will definitely get back playing football. …