Paul Grimley, who surprisingly terminated his interest in succeeding Peter McDonnell as Armagh manager and instead opted to become No.2 to Seamus McEnaney in Monaghan, will find himself patrolling the Athletic Grounds touchline just a couple of goal-kicks away from the family home on Sunday.
As manager of Clontibret, Grimley is keen to see the Monaghan champions overcome Antrim representatives St Gall’s in the Ulster Club semi-final and believes that the choice of venue for the match will afford his side a better chance of winning.
Yet in the four years that he was assistant to Armagh boss Joe Kernan, Grimley’s duties never once took him to the Athletic Grounds.
That’s because the venue remained out of bounds to inter-county action owing to a massive refurbishment project.
During that period, Armagh played their home National League games at Crossmaglen while Clones hosted the county’s Ulster Championship ties.
Grimley said: “It’s possible that even had the Athletic Grounds been available, Armagh’s championship matches would still have been played at Clones because of the team’s massive following.
“We did not play any home championship matches as such while I was part of the management team.
“Indeed, Armagh have not played an Ulster Championship match in the city since the mid 1990’s.”
Last year he served under Kieran McGeeney in Kildare and it had been expected that he would be rubber-stamped as Armagh boss until events took a rather different course.
Now Grimley is totally focused on bringing Clontibret, which includes a clutch of Monaghan county players, to Ulster Club glory.
“We had a tough test against Dromore last Sunday and we have another big battle against St Gall’s this weekend,” he maintains.
Grimley has had a long association with the Pearse Og club in Armagh and was disappointed when they failed to overcome St Gall’s in last week’s quarter-final.
Meanwhile, Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry will have additional options in defence for Sunday’s Ulster Club semi-final against Loup with Aidan Brannigan due to return from suspension and Phelim McGreevy expected to have made a full recovery from the ’flu that kept him out of last Sunday’s win over St Eunan’s.
“It will be good to have these two experienced players back in our side. We will certainly need them as Loup are a very combative team.
“They are physically strong and will seek to impose themselves so we have to be ready for this. This will be a pressure game for us,” says McCorry.