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Former Armagh boss Makem pleads with McEntee to answer county’s call

Former Armagh manager Peter Makem has publicly called for 2002 All-Ireland winner John McEntee to make himself available for the vacant post of the Orchard County manager.

In an open letter, Makem says: “I have to say to you as an Armagh veteran of past campaigns that your county needs you at this critical time.”

Makem served as Armagh manager during two spells, from 1974-75, and later from 1981-82, winning the Ulster Championship in 1982. He urges that McEntee should take the job on his own terms, bringing a flavour of the unprecedented success that he enjoyed with Crossmaglen Rangers as a player.

“The Armagh decline can only be reversed by somebody who is young, who knows modern football, who is fearless, intelligent and respected by all.

“You have been educated at the University of Crossmaglen Rangers. You have won every trophy and have cut your managerial teeth successfully.

“The reason that Rangers maintained such phenomenal momentum over the past 16 years or so was that they continually took stock, went back behind the starting line to the basics of the game.

“These players of Rangers fame are all from Armagh, nurtured and brought up through the ranks by Armagh folk, managed and trained by Armagh people, and playing a particular Armagh style and approach.

“In other words, the technique and know-how of Gaelic football is in our county par excellence.

“Can I respectfully present you with some thoughts in this regard — which might reflect your own — regarding the task ahead.

“There is only one way to create a new order, a new momentum when confronted with serious decline and that is a totally fresh beginning, a totally clean sheet with everyone and everything associated with the old regime departed from the scene. In your own time bring back the players you consider suitable for the new order.

“The six month gap before the next inter-county fixtures for Armagh presents a perfect pressure- free time to unearth new talent and to create the overall framework of a totally new approach.

“You know well that there are players of substantial ability on the present Armagh panel, but they are not playing to their full potential because there is no proper system to maximise their talents, nor does there appear to be a proper coaching system to develop their skills.

“There is usually only one — and sometimes maybe two — outstanding naturally gifted players, then there is a group of exceptional footballers, and the others are all good solid players, and all these are hammered into unity to perform to their potential.

“Every county has its specific and historic problems and these must be deeply sorted out from the very beginning. Only a new programme of intense scouting, specialised skills training for individual players and the creation of an appropriate system of play will create a new Armagh side to compete for ultimate honours.

“As I see it, you possess the qualities of two of Armagh’s finest along with your own gifts. Our All-Ireland in 2002 was won eventually on the experience that came from Crossmaglen through Joe Kernan.

“But the radical, preparatory step came from the earlier approach of Brian McAlinden who changed the mindset of Armagh county football that only players of steel and ambition would be allowed to wear the county jersey.”

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