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end of career? Oisin McConville fears Jamie Clarke's time with Armagh has come to an end

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Armagh's Jamie Clarke in action against Mayo's Chris Barrett during the 2019 All-Ireland SFC Round 3 qualifier at Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Armagh's Jamie Clarke in action against Mayo's Chris Barrett during the 2019 All-Ireland SFC Round 3 qualifier at Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Armagh's Jamie Clarke in action against Mayo's Chris Barrett during the 2019 All-Ireland SFC Round 3 qualifier at Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Oisín McConville fears Armagh might have seen the last of Jamie Clarke after his decision to step away for 2021.

The talented Crossmaglen attacker is not available to manager Kieran McGeeney as they ramp up preparations for a tricky looking campaign in Division 1 North which also includes Monaghan, Tyrone and Donegal.

Clarke has been in and out of the Armagh panel since making a goal-scoring debut in 2010 as he pursued other interests and even played with New York in the Connacht Championship in 2018.

He had been back in tow with Armagh for the last two seasons but has since opted out. And McConville fears Clarke, who turns 32 later this year, might now have played for the county for the last time.

“I think other people may regret it more than him, I think he seems to be OK with his life choices and we probably have to accept that for what it is,” McConville said.

“I suppose we are not all wired the same way, and he might be looking at some of us who’ve played for Cross’ and Armagh in the past and think ‘there’s more to life than that, and I want more for my life than that’. Whereas our thinking was a little bit on the flip side of that.

“I think because of that, he probably is happy enough with the decisions he is making.

"This is not the first time Jamie has gone away. If he has gone away and regretted it in the past, he seems to have gone away, regretted it and come back in.

"So he knows his plan, he knows what is laid out for him and obviously I’m sure it’s not a decision he has taken lightly. I think this time could be the final time.”

McConville believes both of Armagh’s biggest games in 2021 will come against Séamus McEnaney’s Monaghan. He contends that the winner of their league clash will retain top-flight status while they’re also tipped to meet in an Ulster semi-final.

“Because of the way the year is structured it’s important Armagh now make an impact in the Ulster championship. I suppose you have to be looking at the first game against Antrim thinking that is a very winnable game and then the big game for them is going to be Monaghan.

"And to be honest I think the big game in the league for them is going to be Monaghan too because whoever wins that will stay up.”

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