When Armagh won their only All Ireland football title to date eight years ago, Paul Grimley was manager Joe Kernan’s trusty assistant.
His input into the actual coaching of the side was crucial to securing the ultimate success, but when the Orchard county run out to face Monaghan in the Ulster Senior Championship first round tie at Casement Park on Sunday (2pm) Grimley will be doing his best to wreck their dreams of booking a semi-final engagement with either Fermanagh or Cavan.
As Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney’s able lieutenant Grimley — facing his first Ulster Championship tie in this role — will have a vital part to play in determining the strategy that will be employed to halt Armagh’s progress in the competition.
Yet had events turned out differently when managerial changes were taking place last year, Grimley could well have found himself in charge of his native county.
Although he was seen as a strong candidate to succeed Peter McDonnell in the Armagh hot seat it was Paddy O’Rourke from neighbouring Down who was parachuted into the post, with Grimley throwing in his lot with Monaghan.
As far as Pearse Og clubman Grimley is concerned that’s all water under the bridge. Now his prime concern is to see Monaghan fulfil what he believes to be their considerable potential on Sunday and take a big step towards ending their Ulster title famine.
“Armagh are going into this match with the benefit of their preliminary round win over Derry behind them, but we have prepared very well and morale is excellent,” said Grimley.
“There is a feeling within Monaghan that this team can deliver, but it will take a very big performance if we are to get over Armagh.”
His tactical prowess, reading of games and ability to pinpoint where switches should be made have already proven invaluable assets to a Monaghan side that just retained its slot in Division One of the National League.
“Admittedly we just held on and no more to a place in the top tier, but having said that we played against the top teams during our campaign — sides like Kerry, Cork, Tyrone and Dublin — and that helped our side to mature and to appreciate just what it takes to make progress,” said Grimley.
While he is a club colleague of players like Andy Mallon, Paul Duffy and Ronan Clarke in Armagh, he will be putting home loyalties on the back burner for a spell on Sunday afternoon.
“Once the ball is thrown in my sole focus will be on doing what I can to get a win for Monaghan. Obviously I still follow the fortunes of Armagh, but life moves on and you have to be up for whatever challenges are presented to you,” adds Grimley.
“Monaghan have been knocking on the Ulster door for a while now and the belief is that it is time for them to step through.”
His contribution to Monaghan’s team administration is lauded by manager Seamus McEnaney, now in his fourth year in charge.
“I am very fortunate to have someone of the calibre of Paul Grimley as part of my management team,” said McEnaney.