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We’ll Bounce Back Insists Armagh’s Clarke

We’ll Bounce Back Insists Armagh’s Clarke

Sport can be cruel sometimes and Armagh were left heartbroken in Athlone on Saturday as a late try and conversion from City of Derry’s Mark O’Connor saw them lost out injury-time. But Armagh number 8 Tim Clarke, the man-of-the-match winner, said his side will ‘keep their heads up’ as their season is far from over.

IRFU President John Callaghan, as a proud Armagh clubman, would no doubt have liked a different outcome, but in presenting the AIB Junior Cup trophy to City of Derry captain Bob McKillop, there was still a sense of pride in acknowledging an Ulster win.

Derry became the first northern champions since Rainey Old Boys won the inaugural AIB Junior Cup competition in 2006, with their late show providing a nightmare finish for Andy Hughes’ Armagh side.

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Hughes’ back row colleague Tim Clarke took the AIB man-of-the-match award for a typically abrasive and committed display, and said afterwards that Armagh still have plenty to play for before the season ends.

“It’s hard to take, definitely. This is the first time we’ve been in the final of the AIB Junior Cup but we’ve a long way to go in the Ulster Qualifying League,” he told IrishRugby.ie.

“We’re joint top of the table, we’ve a long way to go in the season and we still have a lot to achieve. We just have to keep the heads up and keep working for the next month.”

The goal of finishing the league in pole position and making it through to the AIB League Round Robin qualifying series will clearly drive Clarke and his team-mates on as they look to bounce back from their cup final heartache.

“We said in the dressing room that we need to keep the heads up, focus on the league now, get down to training on Tuesday and focus on the upcoming games. Just get the head up and play on.

“That’s the third time we’ve played Derry this season. Unfortunately they’ve come out on top twice, but there’s still a way to go in the league. So hopefully we can take the league this year and get one up on them.”

That optimism clearly comes from the knowledge that Armagh have some very promising and talented players in their squad, with scorers Adam Gowing (four penalties) and Matthew Irwin (try) name-checked by Clarke.

“Adam was brilliant today. We lost him the last time we played Derry and it made a big difference. His kicking alone makes a very big difference and he also controls the game well.

“It’s a young squad, we’ve got some good players especially in the backs – ‘Eddie’ (Matthew Irwin), Peter Elliott and Adam at number 10.

“We’ve got a young squad and there’s a lot to come from them in the future,” he concluded.

Related Links –

Post-Match Audio: Tim Clarke

Armagh 17 City of Derry 19 Match Report