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Clarke steps up to the challenge
OMAGH men have a recent tradition of ‘minding the house’ in the Tyrone Number 3 jersey and Conor Clarke would love to continue that trend.
Commanding full-back displays by the McMahon brothers, Joe and Justin have been a feature of the Red Hands decade-long success story, but even those highly-acclaimed siblings will have been impressed by the towering performance of their young club-mate against Derry last Sunday.
Twenty-year old Clarke went head-to-head with one of the country’s top marksmen, Paddy Bradley, over the seventy minutes at Healy Park and more than held his own as Tyrone wiped the floor with their Sperrin neighbours.
The fast-emerging St Enda’s defender added to his flourishing reputation with a disciplined and tenacious showing, producing a number of timely interceptions to cut out any dangerous Oak Leaf raids and using possession wisely when on the ball.
Clarke, an All-Ireland Minor champion eighteen months ago, is one of a plethora of youngsters keen to step into the breach and spearhead an exciting new era for Tyrone.
The early signs are promising with the side sealing the McKenna Cup title and winning their first two league matches. Conor is keen to build on this upbeat start to 2012 both for himself and the county as a whole.
“I’ve been lucky enough to get two games under my belt. Micky trusted me in the McKenna Cup and thankfully he’s given me a run out in the National League as well. Touch wood it’s going well for me so far.
“There are a few who haven’t been regulars before coming in and trying to nail down a jersey in the team. We’ve two wins which is a good start and we’ll pick it up now in training for when we resume in a couple of weeks time.
“That’s what we were aiming for, to win the Derry match and have four points going into the break. We’ve got that which should set us up in good stead now for the rest of the matches.”
And Clarke stressed that the more seasoned members of the squad, who have played mere bit part roles so far this term, are making a vital contribution behind the scenes as they fight back to full fitness.
“Getting off to a good start is a bonus. The older men are still very much part of the squad and they are showing us newer boys the ropes. As I said we are still climbing up the ladder.
“Everything is going well so far and hopefully it will continue. We all know that the season is long so we won’t get carried away.”