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The Mercurial Jamie Clarke Is Back Where He Belongs: In An Armagh SFC Final

The Mercurial Jamie Clarke Is Back Where He Belongs: In An Armagh SFC Final
By Nathan Molloy Updated
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Crossmaglen Rangers take on Grenmore in the Armagh County Final on Sunday. They're chasing an incredible 18th county title this century and a first this decade. A familiar face is back from his travels and is certain to make an impact.

Jamie Clarke has returned to his home club.

The former county star returned to Armagh this season after spending two years abroad in Paris. Speaking to The Irish News after his arrival in Armagh, he stated that he didn't want to stay at home during lockdown.

I didn't want to hang around home and I decided to go to Paris. I knew lockdown wouldn't be a good idea to hang around. I was in Paris for a year which was a great experience. I had the [fashion] business and I was in a café as well which was a nice experience.

Starring role

The 33-year-old wasn't present in the earlier rounds of the Championship due to his soccer commitments with Newry City. Clarke joined the club in August, and the club currently sit in 10th in the Northern Ireland premiership.

However, he starred in their trashing of Maghery in the semifinal. Clarke played a huge role in the game from the start, running from midfield to catch a high ball but fumbling it under pressure. Luckily for him, the opposing defender tried to pass it to the goalkeeper but he slipped, letting the ball roll into the empty net. He then proceeded to kick 3 points to help Crossmaglen beat Maghery by 3-15 to 1-6.

Read More: Eight Years After Debut, Limerick Powerhouse One Of Football's Best Half-Backs

Heading into this weekend's final, Crossmaglen will be hoping to avoid a three-in-a-row of final losses. They lost to Clann Eireann last year after conceding 2-06 in the last quarter of the game. This year, they come up against Granemore who are appearing in their first-ever decider. After the last two finals ended in disappointment, Crossmaglen will be hoping Jamie Clarke might push them over the line. Speaking to the Irish Examiner ahead of the final, manager Stephen Kernan says he is delighted to have Jamie back.

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I am delighted to have him back. I am delighted to coach him. I like coaching Jamie. He's very opened minded. He trains, he does his weights, he does his yoga and the off-field conditioning that we do. He does it all, he wants to win, and he doesn't cut corners.

'The hunger is still there'

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Clarke last featured for the Orchard County in 2020, when they suffered a hammering by Donegal in the Ulster semi-final. Having made his debut in 2010, he has never got his hands on an Ulster championship medal due to the sheer competitiveness of the province. The 33-year-old has taken breaks before, in 2016 and 2018 for travelling reasons. He even lined out for New York.

6 May 2018; Jamie Clarke of New York in action against Paddy Maguire of Leitrim during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between New York and Leitrim at McGovern Park at Gaelic Park in New York, USA.Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfiler

With him shining for his club and the county having the best team for a long while, might see Clarke in the iconic orange jersey for one last time in 2023?

Speaking to RTÉ back in August, he said the fire is still there.

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"I know from myself and my own body, I know I’m not done yet. The hunger is still there one way or another.

"It was a decent year for Armagh, tough at times, the Galway one was slightly intense. It was great watching but, essentially, I would have preferred to be on the pitch."

He's had an incredible career for one of Ireland's most celebrated clubs and was part of the Cross team that reached the 2009 All-Ireland club final.

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19 October 2008; Jamie Clarke, Crossmaglen. Armagh Senior Football Final, Crossmaglen v Pearse Og, Athletic Grounds, Armagh. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Win or lose this Sunday, we doubt this is the last we'll see of the mercurial forward.

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SEE ALSO: Ciaran Whelan Fears GAA Could Soon Have A Problem Recruiting Inter- County Managers 

 

 

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