Armagh Minor football team manager Paul McShane will make the trek to Croke Park for the second week in succession on Sunday but this time he will be an anonymous figure in the stand rather than in the spotlight on the touchline.
McShane will be a more than interested observer when Down and Mayo meet in the second All Ireland semi-final now that his own side have booked their place in the decider following their impressive 2-10 to 0-10 win over Kerry at the weekend.
The real surprising feature of Armagh’s victory was that it was not achieved by a much more handsome margin since they carved out numerous goal chances only to be foiled by a combination of sound goalkeeping by Kerry’s Paul O’Sullivan and ill-luck.
Gavin McParland’s two goals underpinned Armagh’s win while Robbie Tasker and Eugene McVerry also emphasised their skills in what is seen as one of the best full-forward lines to have emerged in any county in recent years.
But while Silverbridge clubman McShane is more than happy to have hurdled the Kingdom, he has sounded a note of warning to his side as their preparations for the final are stepped up.
“We were fortunate enough to beat Down in the Ulster final and there’s now a real chance we could be meeting them again in the All Ireland final.
“When you look at the way they beat Dublin in their quarter-final after the problems they had with Swine Flu in their squad, that tells you a lot about their character,” insists McShane.
Last year, Mayo proved a strong force at Minor level and Down face a huge test against the westerners on Sunday but the prospect of meeting their neighbours in the All Ireland final is now viewed as an extra incentive to succeed by their manager Mark Turley.
“Fair play to Armagh, they did very well against Kerry and showed some very clinical finishing in that game. The fact that they now have a match under their belts at Croke Park is a bonus for them but we will just focus on the job we have to do against Mayo on Sunday.
“We know that they have players still in there from last year who will carry a bit of experience so we must be up for it in every sense,” maintains Turley.