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GAA: Armagh legend Seeley keeps it in perspective

By Michael McGeary

Seamus McEnaney’s controversial decision to overlook his second choice keeper at Casement Park made the sporting headlines last month.



He can argue that the end justified the means in that Monaghan crushed Armagh to secure an Ulster semi-final place.

Ironically Armagh keepers found themselves in the spotlight many years earlier — in the 1953 All Ireland decider against Kerry.

On that occasion the Orchard County used no fewer than three different men between the posts.

The late Eamon McMahon, who later signed for Glasgow Celtic, had to go off injured and was replaced by Gerry Wilson.

Unbelievably the injury jinx struck again with Wilson in turn having to leave the field and Gerry Murphy taking over.

Clan na Gael stalwart Brian Seeley, who gave sterling service to the Francis Street club both as player and manager, played centre-half-forward for Armagh that fateful afternoon.

“The whole day just passed us by like a blur,” he said.

“That’s why I tell any of my grandsons who are playing football to enjoy it because before you realise it, it has gone and is over.

“Time now is going twice as fast as it did 50 years ago!

“When Clan na Gael won three Ulster club titles in a row in the 70s it was all over in the blink of an eye.”

Seeley isn’t overly impressed with the GAA’s preoccupation with fitness and argues that the basic skills are being totally ignored.

He has been involved in the sport for a lifetime and he’s concerned by the alarming lack of scoring forwards — and convinced the handpass has ruined the game he loves so much.

“When we were training with Armagh in Maghery prior to the 1953 All Ireland final we worked on all the skills, but now they do nothing but handpass,” he said.

“I’ve two grandsons playing for Clans and I haven’t seen them practising kicking yet.

“There were men playing for Armagh last Saturday who couldn’t kick the ball more than 25 yards.”

Unfortunately in the Orchard County the 1953 game against Kerry will be remembered for Bill McCorry’s missed penalty.

But that is unfair to the Wolfe Tones man whose contribution to Armagh is all too often overlooked.

“You have to remember there was no guarantee that we would have won even if Bill had scored the penalty,” added Seeley who rarely misses a Clans match.

He argues too, with some conviction, that Armagh slipped up badly in letting Paul Grimley through their hands and away to Monaghan.

He said: “He proved himself in his time with Kieran McGeeney in Kildare and without him they couldn’t beat Louth.

“When Grimley was there the Lily Whites reached an All Ireland quarter-final and I remember Jack Brattan telling me that Paul was a great tactician.

“Certainly against Armagh last month in Belfast he seemed to be the one calling all the shots.”

Belfast Telegraph

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