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Wednesday 19 June 2019

Armagh allay Burns fitness fears ahead of Clones clash

Jarlath Og Burns in action against Jason McLoughlin
Jarlath Og Burns in action against Jason McLoughlin

Armagh GAA have moved to allay fears over the well-being of Jarlath Og Burns after he was hospitalised in the wake of Sunday's Ulster SFC semi-final defeat to Cavan.

They confirmed that Burns was released later on Sunday evening, fuelling hopes that he'll be available when Armagh seek to reboot their campaign with a huge 'Ulster derby' qualifier against Monaghan.

An away date in Clones - on the weekend after next - represented the toughest possible 'back door' challenge for Kieran McGeeney's men. They already face a tough recovery mission after losing an absorbing replay to Cavan, amid concerns about their rising midfield star.

However, an Armagh statement yesterday, coming after earlier comments from retired star Oisin McConville, sought to quell any suggestion that his hospitalisation was linked to the head injury suffered in the drawn match a week earlier. On that occasion, having starred in normal-time, Burns was forced off at the start of extra-time after a collision at the throw-in.

In a statement yesterday, Armagh GAA revealed: "We can confirm that following yesterday's game Jarly Og Burns was taken to hospital. He was discharged shortly after arrival and returned home last night. Our experienced medical team will continue to assess and monitor Jarly Og."

The player, son of Armagh great and prominent GAA figure Jarlath Burns, was replaced after 68 minutes of the replay.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, which hosted yesterday's qualifier draw, McConville said the player had been dehydrated.

"The first game it was alleged or suspected concussion and they went through the protocols - if in doubt, sit it out and that's what Armagh did," the RTE pundit said.

"Yesterday was nothing to do with concussion, he was dehydrated, he was exhausted, he was on a drip in the dressing-room and he was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure," the 2002 All-Ireland winner added. "I believe he's doing fine. As far as concussion is concerned, the two incidents weren't related in any way."

While the clash of Monaghan and Armagh was the pick of yesterday's round two ties, this was closely followed by Mayo's trip to Down. Other than being sent to Clones, Newry was the toughest possible option for James Horan's (right) Allianz League champions after their shock defeat to Roscommon.

The near-perennial All-Ireland pretenders have struggled in the past in their opening qualifier - most notably at home to Fermanagh in 2016 and then, a year later, away to Derry who threatened a huge upset only for Mayo to pull clear in extra-time.

Mayo are still 1/8 favourites to emerge intact from Pairc Esler. Tyrone are even hotter favourites, at 1/20, to survive a banana skin in Longford, who are renowned as 'back door' ambush specialists.

nWARM tributes have been paid to Mayo legend Padraig Carney, who passed away in California over the weekend, aged 91. Nicknamed 'the Flying Doctor' after he was flown home from New York for the latter stages of Mayo's successful league campaign in 1954, Carney had earlier starred on the last Mayo teams to lift Sam Maguire - in 1950 and '51.

SFC QUALIFIERS RD 2: Westmeath v Limerick; Longford v Tyrone; Antrim v Kildare; Leitrim v Clare; Down v Mayo; Derry v Laois; Offaly v Sligo; Monaghan v Armagh (home team first, games to be played on weekend of June 22/23).

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