Jody Gormley ready to lead St Pat's to promised land
When former Tyrone player Jody Gormley agreed to 'cross the border' to become manager of the St Patrick's Cullyhanna club in Armagh he didn't think that he would find himself writing a new chapter in Orchard county GAA history.
But such has been Gormley's impact within the south Armagh outfit that they now find themselves in the county senior football championship final for the first time in their 125-year history.
What's more, they will be meeting their neighbours Crossmaglen Rangers whose imposing Oliver Plunkett Park headquarters is just five miles up the road from St Patrick's own impressive premises.
During what was a distinguished playing career with the Red Hands in which he won two Ulster Championship medals as well as playing in the All-Ireland defeat to Dublin in 1995, Gormley's wholehearted commitment and his never-say-die spirit were attributes which underscored his value to the team.
He has now successfully inculcated those very same qualities into a St Patrick's side that was forced to dig deep into their new-found psyche to overcome a gallant Ballymacnab side in a rip-roaring semi-final at the weekend.
"We were seven points adrift at half-time and I suppose you could say that we were sagging on the ropes," reflects Gormley. "But we took stock of things at half-time and when we got three quick points immediately on the resumption I began to feel that the tide might turn."
This is precisely what happened and when man-of-the-match Robbie Tasker flighted over the winning point from an injury-time time free the Athletic Grounds roar that greeted this truly historic score must surely have been heard as far away as Cullyhanna itself.
"It was certainly an unbelievable turnaround and we are now looking forward to meeting Crossmaglen Rangers in the final on Sunday week," said a delighted Gormley.
"They are obviously the benchmark against which every other club in the entire country judges itself and being their neighbours, St Patrick's will know all about them.
"I never thought that I would be involved in a match of this magnitude when I took over."
Having made the seamless transition from player to manager, Gormley, who was formerly in charge of Antrim, still derives immense satisfaction from his role on the touchline.
"Some would argue that you don't get the same enjoyment when you are no longer playing, but I'm not so sure," he contends.
"You might not be in the front line but there's still a real buzz about being involved at this level as you are working with some fine players.
"We're talking here about players with outstanding potential who want to be there and who are both ambitious and committed."
Gormley, a native of Trillick, is Head of PE at Abbey CBS Newry and has an in-depth knowledge of Ulster club football.
"But you can never know enough when you are going in against Crossmaglen," he smiles.