Sweat for Kingdom as trio miss training

KERRY boss Jack O’Connor has serious injury headaches ahead of the Munster SFC semi-final replay with Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, with key personnel all sitting out training last night.

Marc O Sé did not train due to a shoulder complaint, while veteran star Mike McCarthy is bidding to recover from an Achilles injury problem.

Tommy Griffin also sat out training last night, but there is better news on inspirational Paul Galvin, who has been battling tonsillitis and an ankle injury. Galvin was not deemed fit enough to start in Sunday’s draw in Killarney but the Finuge man did a full training session yesterday, as did Micheál Quirke.

Meanwhile forward Seanie Johnston returns to the Cavan line-up for the Ulster SFC quarter-final clash with neighbours Fermanagh at Breffni Park on Saturday (5.15pm).

Johnston missed the NFL campaign after dislocating an elbow and then pulled up with a hamstring injury in training last month. But the Cavan Gaels clubman is now fit and takes his place in the team.

Fermanagh midfielder Marty McGrath is also expected to start despite suffering from tendonitis in a knee.

“It’s very frustrating for him that he can’t do as much work as he would like, but we’re managing him the best we can and we’re hoping he’ll be okay,” said Erne boss Malachy O’Rourke.

“I’d be hopeful there would be a full game in him. He’s done a lot of work on his own, including aerobic fitness, and it’s just match practice he’s lacking a bit.”

Galway boss Joe Kernan is sweating over the fitness of skipper Michael Meehan and wing-back Gareth Bradshaw for Sunday fortnight’s Connacht semi-final showdown with Sligo.

Neither will feature for the Tribesmen next Sunday when they take on Louth in a challenge to mark the opening of the St Nicholas grounds outside Drogheda.

Meehan is recovering slowly from a medial ligament injury which threatened his entire season, while Bradshaw is suffering from a thigh injury.

Kernan said: “Gareth and Michael are the two main injury concerns,” said Kernan. Michael is back running now which is a big plus. Gareth started running last week. We have less than three weeks now, but a lot can happen in that time. Michael is on the mend but it took a bit longer for him to recover. We need to build him up gradually. It is in the physio’s hands and we don’t want a short fix here.”

Meanwhile, a new strategy has been launched to promote Gaelic football in urban areas within Tyrone. Rural clubs have been dominant forces for decades, with the likes of Carrickmore and Errigal Ciaran regular senior championship title winners.

The O’Neill Cup has not gone to an urban club since 1990, when Coalisland won their eighth title, but it’s even longer since the last triumph by a club from one of the four large towns, Omagh’s seventh success in 1988.

The famous Dungannon Clarkes club was once the county’s supreme power, and still ranks second in the roll of honour with 10 championship titles, second only to Carrickmore.

But the last of those was won more than half a century ago – in 1956 – and the club currently plays its football in Division Three.

Now a drive is underway to reverse a long-running decline with the launch of ‘Tyrone Urban Strategy – The O’Neill’s March’.

Tyrone assistant secretary Michael McCaughey is leading a project, which he views as a major challenge.

“The county board recognises that fact and we have set up a sub-committee to work with the Omagh, Dungannon, Strabane, Cookstown, Coalisland and Castlederg clubs to draw up an urban strategy to increase participation in GAA activities in those areas,” he said.

“Together we will focus on issues to find specific solutions applicable to our urban areas. With enthusiasm and endeavour we intend to succeed.”

The urban strategy group has set a target of an increased participation in GAA activities in the towns by 20% by 2015.

Already, there are signs of progress in urban areas. Earlier this year, Cookstown won the All-Ireland IFC title at Croke Park, and Omagh made a clean sweep of domestic underage football titles last season.

McCaughey added: “Our aim is to make GAA games and pastimes the activities of choice in our large towns and to make the GAA club the real centre of these communities.”

CAVAN (SF v Fermanagh): F Reilly; D Sheridan, T Corr, M Cahill; P Brady, E McGuigan, A Clarke; C Galligan, D Givney; R Flanagan, G Smith, M McKeever; C Mackey, S Johnston, M Brennan.

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