Oisin McConville hopes to have added yet another Ulster club championship medal to his already vast collection of honours by the time he attends the 2002 Armagh All-Ireland winning team’s reunion function in the Carrickdale Hotel, Dundalk tomorrow week.
The 36-year-old sharpshooter will line out for Crossmaglen Rangers against Kilcoo in Sunday’s decider at the Athletic Grounds Armagh anxious to see his side retain their provincial crown as a prelude to defending their All-Ireland title.
McConville , of course, proved an Armagh hero in the unforgettable 1-12 to 0-14 defeat of fancied Kerry in the 2002 All Ireland showpiece and retains fond memories of the occasion.
“Over a period of time you can lose touch with other players and it will be nice to meet up again,” reflects McConville, whose superb goal had much to do with Armagh’s win.
“There was a great spirit within the side but I thought maybe I had contributed to what would be our downfall when I missed a first-half penalty. I can tell you I was very relieved to score a goal after that to make up for my error. Every player contributed handsomely to our victory.
“I know that the lads are keen to get together again and it’s great to see so many of them very much still involved at a very high level.
“Some people think that players walk away from the game when they hang up their boots but this is certainly not true of this Armagh squad.”
Four players — Steven McDonnell (Killeavey), Ronan Clarke and Kieran Hughes (both Pearse Og) and McConville (Crossmaglen) — are still playing with their clubs although Clarke’s future is in considerable jeopardy because of a long-term Achilles injury.
Three players – skipper Kieran McGeeney, full-back Justin McNulty and wing-back Aidan O’Rourke – are now among the leading inter-county managers in the country. McGeeney is about to embark on his sixth term with Kildare, McNulty has been two years in charge of Laois while O’Rourke is waiting to take his baptism with Louth in 2013.
Paul Grimley, who was coach in 2002, is the new Armagh manager having already served as No 2 to McGeeney in Kildare and Seamus McEnaney in Meath.
Diarmuid Marsden and Paul McGrane, both of whom played key roles in the build-up to McConville’s vital goal in the 2002 final, are now fulfilling roles as an Ulster Council coaching officer and administrator of the new Armagh academy respectively.