Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Kieran McGeeney in pole position to take charge of Armagh

Life after Grimley

Kieran McGeeney
Kieran McGeeney
New chapter: Paul Grimley wants to spend time with his family after stepping down as Armagh boss

The Armagh county board is expected to go through the formal process of seeking a successor to football boss Paul Grimley now that the Pearse Og clubman has stepped down from the role he has filled for the past two years.

But, barring a seismic shift in opinion, Kieran McGeeney will be installed as his successor sooner rather than later.

Events over the past 48 hours in particular have followed the narrative espoused by Grimley himself shortly after taking up the post when he indicated that he saw himself undertaking a short-term brief before handing over the reins.

That those reins now look certain to be entrusted into McGeeney's capable grasp has already triggered a further wave of optimism within a county already imbued with a palpable feelgood factor following a surprisingly extended championship odyssey.

The task now will be to build on the progress that has been achieved and Grimley, having already indicated forcibly that he feels McGeeney is the right man to take Armagh forward, is convinced that at full-strength Armagh will prove difficult to beat.

"I always felt that once we had our full complement of players available to us it would take a very good team to beat us and that's what transpired on Saturday," points out Grimley.

"Once we start maturing in the transition sense and can source new players given the fine work being done at minor and Under-21, Armagh will get to where they want to be.

"The players will be all the better for the experience they have gained this year. Remember, some of them had not played in Croke Park until a couple of weeks ago. "

Grimley's commitment to Armagh has been absolute. He may have ruffled feathers because of the recent media ban but if his players did not wax lyrical off the pitch, then they certainly made a bold statement on the playing arena.

They chiselled out championship wins over Cavan, Meath, Tyrone and Roscommon as well as a draw against Monaghan before falling to Malachy O'Rourke's side in a replay and then succumbing to Donegal by the narrowest of margins last Saturday.

With McGeeney as his lieutenant, Grimley consigned Armagh's demotion to Division Three earlier in the year to nothing more than a distant memory, his competitive drive and stirring rhetoric extracting herculean performances from his players over the summer.

"Paul has created a situation whereby Armagh can now move on to the next level," points out Armagh PRO Raymond Kerins.

"He said all along that he would only hold the managerial post and was only keeping his word when it came to stepping down.

"But we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude."

Grimley, who was No 2 to Joe Kernan when Armagh won the All-Ireland title for the only time to date in 2002, subsequently served another term as assistant manager under Paddy O'Rourke and did stints as coach in Meath, Cavan and Kildare.

Kerins confirms that protocol in relation to the appointment of a new manager will be observed but the installation of McGeeney in the hotseat will be a formality.

Having been in charge of Kildare for six years, he was enticed to Armagh by Grimley to become his assistant and has since made a dramatic impact within a county where he is regarded as a folk-hero having captained the side to their 2002 All-Ireland triumph.

The Armagh county board, the players and his management team are fulsome in their praise of Grimley's efforts to revitalise the county's championship fortunes, especially in the wake of last year's disappointing campaign.

A statement released by the board said: "Paul Grimley is big in stature and gargantuan in his commitment to Armagh. On behalf of everyone involved in Armagh we extend a hearty thank you to Paul and wish him well. Paul has asked for a period of rest and has a desire to be able to relax with his family over the next few weeks."

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