Renowned Strength and Conditioning coach Mickey McGurn has revealed that only a phone call out of the blue from new Louth manager Aidan O'Rourke stopped him from pursuing other ventures in high performance sport in England.
McGurn — whose agreement with the Armagh County Board runs out at the end of this month — was unsure of his future in the GAA world, and openly admitted that it was the lure of working with a modern coach like O'Rourke that convinced him to change his mind and stay in the game.
“I had a few projects over in England that I was probably going to go to,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Obviously that was all in the pipeline and suddenly this came along.
“It was totally out of the blue, totally leftfield for me, and I hadn't much intention of going back into Gaelic football.
“After working with Anthony Tohill in the International Rules, unless someone like Aidan had come along who was young and modern I wouldn't have gone back into Gaelic football.
“But when I met with Aidan I realised that he's a wee bit like Anthony,” he said.
“He's very powerful, he's organised, he's modern and very thorough,” he added.
Last season was Paddy O'Rourke's last campaign with Armagh and — in a surprise move — McGurn was removed from the
Down man's backroom team, instead being deployed in a role with underage players.
This was quite strange, given the praise that McGurn had received both from Armagh players and Ireland players on the International Rules squad, not to mention his achievements with the Ireland rugby team.
McGurn wished to put the record straight on another issue — the sneering comments from some pundits who suggested he lacks experience as a Gaelic football coach.
By his own admission, he is nothing of the sort.
He explained: “That's the one thing that I said to Aidan.
“I'm not a coach, I've never been a coach. I don't know where people got this idea from that I can coach Gaelic football because I can't.
“I'm in the gym, getting boys fit to play Gaelic football.”
Louth face Laois in next year's Leinster Championship but before that they have a tricky year of consolidating their promotion to Division Two.
While there is undoubtedly talent among the Wee County ranks, McGurn is looking ahead to the challenge, a little bit older and wiser from his experiences in neighbouring Armagh. “I think that the lesson I learned in Armagh is, no matter how fit and strong you are, you have to have systems and structures,” he said.
“From what I gather, Aidan's very big on that.
He's big on coaching players, having a gameplan, getting systems on place.
“My role is to get the players fit and strong and let him do the rest, along with the other coaches,” he said.
“Which sounds perfect to me, it's all I want.”