The Armagh u20s are preparing for a league final this weekend as they take on Longford, in Lacken, on Saturday.
The Orchard County topped their group after a three game unbeaten run, picking up two victories and drawing once.
They are missing a number of key men ahead of Saturday’s showdown however. But coach Aidan Lloyd believes their squad is strong enough to deal with a few absentees.
Odhran Carragher and James O’Hara both missed out last weekend through injury while sharpshooter Caolan Finnegan picked up a shoulder injury.
Centre half back Brendan O’Hagan will miss out through suspension while vice-captain Thomas Og Duffy has saw no game time this season.
“We’ve picked up a few wee niggles. There’s a leadership group and most of those boys are in it,” said Lloyd.
“But in fairness there’s opportunities there and there’s two or three got game time last week that maybe weren’t expecting it.
“They’ve all done the work and one man’s loss is another man’s gain as the saying goes. The boys that step in, they certainly don’t weaken the team.”
Madden’s Darragh McMullen is back in fold however and he made his first appearance of the year against Westmeath.
“He was like having a new signing coming on last week. The plan was to ease him in but the way it transpired last week, he came on just before half time.
“The lad has missed maybe a month and he’s naturally fit, and he didn’t look out of place. He’s trained this week so that’ll only stand to him.”
Thick and fast
It’s been all action for the Armagh youngsters. Saturday’s game is their fourth league clash in five weeks, with their championship clash against Monaghan coming up on Wednesday 22 May.
“It’s coming very thick and fast, the lads train during the week and play at the weekend,” added Lloyd “We’d probably train if they didn’t have games, so I think they’d rather that.
“They like the routine of meeting up and getting a bit of breakfast and heading off. We seem to be always travelling.
“We’ve had one home game and two away (in the league). We’re away again this weekend and away in the championship, a couple of home fixtures would be nice.”
It’s a tight group that have been together since minor and they’re all pushing for the same cause.
“Martin (Kelly) has had them lads from before they were minors and in fairness to him he’s like a father figure to them.
“The boys are tight and what I would have noticed years ago playing at that level, there would have been cliques within different clubs, but there’s none of that.
“They’re there for the betterment of Armagh and they want to play for Armagh. The club things are left at the door, and they’ve all bought into it.
“They all want to do well for Armagh and get back competing and then hopefully a wee bit of silverware.”