HomeFootballConor Laverty doesn’t confirm or deny Marty Clarke’s possible return to Down...

Conor Laverty doesn’t confirm or deny Marty Clarke’s possible return to Down goalkeeping role

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Down selector Marty Clarke before the Allianz Football League Division 3 match between Westmeath and Down at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Conor Laverty refused to be drawn yesterday on whether Marty Clarke was in contention for a shock comeback for Down in a goalkeeping role, albeit nor did he rule it out.

It was reported last week that Clarke was training alongside Down’s current goalkeepers, John O’Hare and Kevin Anderson, and could be trialled at some stage before their Ulster SFC campaign begins next month.

Clarke, now 36, hasn’t played for Down since 2011, but Laverty’s options in goal have taken a significant hit this year and it is understood that management are exploring different options, even at this relatively advanced stage of the season.

De facto number one, Charlie Smyth, is currently in America chasing an NFL contract. He recently signed with ProStar Sports, an agency that deals with American football talent.

Last year’s starting championship goalkeeper Niall Kane has opted out for the year, leaving Laverty searching for a player with the requisite ball skills to play the role in his desired style.

Clarke retired from club football in 2017 due to the effects of Addison’s disease but made a comeback for An Ríocht last September, in a Down SFC match against Laverty’s Kilcoo.

Asked on Sunday in Mullingar whether Clarke’s return was a live prospect, Laverty said simply: “Marty wasn’t in the 26 today and hasn’t been in the 26 this year.”

Asked whether it was a possibility, Laverty repeated: “He hasn’t been in the 26. John (O’Hare) has been doing reasonably well for us. John’s been brilliant all year actually.”

Clarke was in Mullingar on Sunday in his role as a selector and it seems unlikely now that he will be trialled in advance of the championship, at least in a competitive capacity, with Down requiring a result from the remaining game of their Division 3 campaign against Clare on Sunday to guarantee promotion.

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