Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Armagh legend Oisin McConville targets All-Ireland glory

Oisin McConville pictured with wife Darina and son Ryan
Oisin McConville pictured with wife Darina and son Ryan

Let's make Armagh a football power again! That's the clarion call today from Oisin McConville, who has just called time on his glittering playing career with Crossmaglen Rangers and the Orchard County.

And he reveals for the first time that he turned down an opportunity to become part of Paddy O'Rourke's management team when the 1991 Down All-Ireland winning captain took up the Armagh reins.

McConville, too, discloses that in the last 24 hours he has been approached by a number of clubs seeking his services as coach/manager, two of which offered "substantial financial incentives."

But he reiterates that his home club and native county will continue to form the kernel of his sporting world for the future just as they have done for the past two decades.

"I have in the more recent past indicated that I would like at some stage to become involved in management but I have to say that I was both surprised and flattered when Paddy O'Rourke contacted me and asked if I would be interested in becoming part of his backroom team," states McConville.

"But while I had brought the curtain down on my county career I was still playing with Crossmaglen Rangers and I honestly felt that they had the capacity to maybe win a couple more honours before I opted out.

"This proved the case but Paddy's offer certainly set me thinking and I resolved then that when I finished playing I would focus more strongly on perhaps becoming involved in management."

But the 37-year-old, whose phenomenal scoring exploits have propelled him up among the pantheon of truly great players, is prepared to bide his time before perhaps embarking on a new chapter in his illustrious sporting career.

"I would dearly love to see Armagh become a football power again," enthuses the legendary sharpshooter.

"I will be brutally honest here. When Armagh won the All-Ireland title in 2002 I, like a lot of other people, thought that we might win Sam at least one more time. That did not happen, of course.

"But the success triggered such football fervour and garnered such a feelgood factor in Armagh that I believe if the side were to regain the status they had a decade or so ago, then everyone would buy into this. The whole community would benefit, I feel," said McConville.

And while he would not baulk at assuming command of Armagh "somewhere along the line", he has nothing but the highest praise for the efforts that current boss Paul Grimley is making to restructure the side.

"Paul is showing faith in a battery of young guys and he is to be applauded for that," he says.

"Some people might say that the results are slow in coming but it takes time and patience to re-build and he should be afforded this.

"What Armagh sow today they might well reap in the foreseeable future," insists McConville.

And while he will continue to immerse himself in the fortunes of the county team, the notion of accepting a generous financial package, well in excess of the GAA's regulation expenses, is anathema to him.

"Two clubs in particular from the midlands have been on with what I can only describe as significant financial deals but I won't be selling my soul to anyone," raps McConville.

"I take my reward from the fact that there is a new generation of players coming through in Crossmaglen Rangers and that Armagh will in time have the capacity to mount a serious challenge again for the major honours.

"Obviously I would love to get the chance to try and deliver those honours but I will be taking things one day at a time as I have always done."

McConville's single-mindedness, fiercely competitive spirit and inter-personal skills ensure that he ticks the most important boxes in terms of a potential manager's CV.

"But I have a lot to learn," he adds. "And I am prepared to apply myself in this regard.

"For the moment I will content myself with being a spectator, albeit in the role of maybe a fledgling manager.

"A number of my former Armagh colleagues have made a seamless transition from player to the boss's bib and if I thought that I could achieve that at some stage in the future, I think I would be very happy."

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