Armagh Minor football team manager Paul McShane plans to lean even more on his ‘secret weapon’ as the build-up to his team’s All Ireland final showdown with Mayo intensifies.
Former Armagh senior ace Oisin McConville has been lending his experience and motivational skills to the Minor squad’s cause on an occasional basis but will now have a rather more significant backroom role to play as the orchard county side gear up to meet their Connacht opponents who staged a storming second-half comeback to overcome Down in their semi-final.
McShane, who has watched his side blossom and mature after a hesitant start to the year, acknowledges that Mayo will represent their biggest test to date but believes that McConville’s input will be a vital element in their preparations.
“Oisin has certainly been a big help to us in the recent past and doubtless will continue to have an input,” explains McShane, “In the past, when any Armagh side was preparing for a game of this magnitude, they might have been forced to go outside the county for extra help in their preparations but I find it rather gratifying that we can call upon someone of Oisin’s calibre who has seen and done it all. These boys look up to him and hang on his every word when he addresses them.”
Silverbridge clubman McShane has been a long-time admirer of McConville from neighbouring Crossmaglen Rangers, just four miles west from the impressive Silverbridge complex on the main Newtonwhamilton-Dundalk road.
“It is a measure of Oisin that he is prepared to help these boys along. Hopefully, some of them will maybe go on to achieve a sample of what he himself has achieved,” adds McShane.
For his part McConville, whose Crossmaglen Rangers side face Pearse Og in the Armagh championship quarter-final at the Athletic Grounds tonight (7.00), is optimistic that McShane’s boys can rise to the occasion against Mayo.
“Obviously Mayo have shown themselves to be a good side to date. The manner in which they came back in the second-half against Down was very impressive. They are physically strong, move the ball quickly out of defence and can take their scores. Armagh will need a big performance to beat them but I feel they are capable of delivering this,” says McConville.