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'It's a massive addition for us' - Jamie Clarke completes transfer to London club

Clarke will link up with Down forward Connaire Harrison at Neasden Gaels later this summer.

Armagh footballer Jamie Clarke is on the move.
Armagh footballer Jamie Clarke is on the move.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

JAMIE CLARKE WILL be playing his club football in London this year after his transfer from Crossmaglen to London side Neasden Gaels went through yesterday.

The 2017 All-Star nominee joins the reigning London intermediate champions, forming a star-studded attack with Down ace Connaire Harrison also in their ranks. 

Clarke plans on moving to the English capital after the conclusion of Armagh’s All-Ireland SFC campaign, Neasden Gaels chairman Frank Kane confirmed to The42.

“It’s a massive addition for us to be fair,” Kane says. “He’s someone that’s very high profile in Ireland and it’s going to be a big addition. We got confirmation yesterday.

“Jamie’s thinking is that his career is heading down the fashion line and London is obviously a bigger market for all that and there’s bigger opportunities for himself.

“It’s pot-luck really, not just that I know Jamie, but it suits both of our scenarios in that he wants to get to London and I wanted to raise the profile of Neasden Gaels.”

Kane, who also acts as the club’s manager and goalkeeper, met Clarke in New York after he was part of the Exiles team that suffered a narrow Connacht SFC extra-time defeat to Leitrim in May 2018.

Kane is part-owner of The Chelsea Bell bar, which was the main sponsors for the Longford club that Clarke lined out with during his time in the Big Apple.

Jamie Clarke with Paddy Maguire Jamie Clarke (right) in action for New York against Leitrim in last year's Connacht championship. Source: Andy Marlin/INPHO

“I’m from Longford myself. Jamie played a number of years out there with Longford New York and that’s how I met him and got to know him. I just kept the contact up and he said London was where he needed to be for his career.

“I said, ‘Look, why don’t you mix both your career and your football together and do something here with it?’

“His plan is to be based in London. He’s very ambitious and he has great plans for his career so London is the place for him to play that out.”

The Orchard County face Monaghan on Saturday in round 2 of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers as they look to bounce back from their Ulster semi-final replay exit to Cavan. 

“His focus at the minute is on Armagh,” continues Kane. “Obviously, they’ve a big weekend coming up. You can see for the last couple of games how key he is to Armagh so that’s been his focus.

“We didn’t really want to take his focus away from that, it’s just that time of year comes that he has to do what he’s going to do for the rest of it.

“I think Armagh will go strong and he’ll be at the pinnacle of that.”

Gerard Collins and Jamie Clarke Jamie Clarke in action for Armagh against Down last month. Source: Philip Magowan/INPHO

The 29-year-old has not been involved with Crossmaglen this season.

Neasden Gaels, who reached three straight London SFC finals between 2008 and 2010, sealed their return to senior ranks last year as Harrison helped them to a 2-13 to 0-13 victory in the intermediate final.

Kane is hopeful the addition of Clarke to a squad that also contains London county player Conor Doran will boost their hopes of competing for the senior crown this season.

“He’s a great addition to us not just on the pitch, he’s keen to develop the club and the team with us. We’ve been yo-yo-ing up and down to intermediate in the last couple of years.

“Far away from the success we had between 2008 and 2010. There was a massive Armagh connection then, so it’s a natural thing to be linked with Armagh again. 

“Back in 2008 to 2010 we were always challenging, we were one of the bigger teams in London. So that’s what I wanted to recreate.

“And you can do it without making a statement. Jamie is a statement. It brings a professional element to the rest of the players and lift their game and see that they’re playing with a guy with such a high profile.

“When Connaire came in last year, the lift it gave the players to be able to play with someone of that ability and to show that he’s willing to put his neck on the line for that jersey is a big thing for Neasden. When you have players like that willing to put it in, it brings everyone up the one standard.”

Kane confirmed the club have “lots of plans” to further bolster their panel before the championship begins.

Tir Chonaill Gaels are the reigning champions while 2017 champions Fulham Irish, managed by Tyrone legend Owen Mulligan, are also set to compete for the crown.

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Kevin O'Brien

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