Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Kieran McGeeney has pivotal role in Armagh's future

Comeback: Kieran McGeeney has returned to his former county

Armagh boss Paul Grimley makes no bones about it – Kieran McGeeney's return to his native county as part of the management team will be a tremendous boost for the orchard county side.

While it was known that the former Kildare manager had expressed an interest in returning to the county that he captained to All-Ireland glory in 2002, confirmation that he will now join Grimley, Martin McQuillan and Peter McDonnell to comprise a formidable management team has sparked a new wave of optimism.

Grimley has already been engrossed in making preliminary preparations for the 2014 campaign and is delighted that McGeeney will now be coming on board.

The Mullaghbawn native will work in a coaching capacity and will also fulfill the brief of a selector.

McGeeney and Grimley previously worked together for two years in Kildare after which the former was joined by his 2002 All-Ireland winning colleague Aidan O'Rourke as his No 2.

McGeeney's strength and conditioning coach in Kildare, Julie Davis, has also been added to the new-look Armagh management ticket.

Meanwhile, Grimley is clearly anxious to see Armagh press ahead with their ambitious plans for the future and sees McGeeney as having a big role in striving to bring these to fruition.

"Kieran is hugely popular in Armagh for obvious reasons and is regarded as an icon here," states Grimley, "He will prove a huge asset and obviously he will have an important role to play.

"I have already indicated that I will be putting the emphasis on strengthening our panel and in this respect I have undertaken an extensive assessment of resources over the course of the county championship."

McGeeney has maintained close contact with Armagh during his six-year term with Kildare and his motivational skills, tactical nous and forceful personality will be deployed as part of a concerted bid to restore Armagh as a football power.

During McGeeney's tenure as a player in the side, Armagh won the Ulster championship on six occasions (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006).

He won three All Stars awards (1999, 2000 and 2002) and also received the 2002 Texaco Footballer of the Year award.

McGeeney retired from inter-county football in 2007 but returned to the game as the manager of Kildare later that year.

Grimley, who was No 2 to Joe Kernan when the orchard county enjoyed the biggest success in their history eleven years ago, has already pledged that Armagh will "go forward with confidence."

And he adds: "We have all seen how the bar has been raised for teams by the performances of the likes of Dublin, Kerry and Mayo in particular. Strength and conditioning are very important nowadays but you cannot focus on these elements at the expense of skills. We have every reason to go forward with confidence.

"Kieran has huge experience of all aspects of coaching and managing having worked with some outstanding players in Kildare and Armagh now stands to benefit from his many attributes."

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