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How McCorry cancer battle will drive his Armagh role

By John Campbell

Should Jim McCorry bring the same positive mindset to his new role as part of the Armagh management team as he has adopted in his personal life, then boss Kieran McGeeney will be hailed for making a truly inspired choice.

McCorry may have endured the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune over the past two years but self-pity and recriminations are alien concepts to the Lurgan native.

After departing Down in 2015 after just one year in charge during which he took them into the elevated environment of Division One in the league, he courageously continued to battle cancer.

And as the Ulster Championship approached its climax in June of last year, far from being immersed in the action McCorry was busily engaged in ferrying food to the starving in the remotest regions of Tanzania.

Similarly, while Dublin and Mayo held us all in thrall in this year's spectacular All-Ireland final, McCorry, shovel in hand, was helping to build houses for Romania's homeless.

If 'Kids 4 School' and 'Habitat NI' were the worthy bodies which benefitted from his enthusiastic output in his travels, then an Armagh side which revealed a growing maturity this term is about to inhale his knowledge and inspiration gleaned over a 28-year coaching career.

Having masterminded four Down Championship crowns and a similar number of Division League titles during his success-laden stint with Kilcoo, McCorry's credentials were such that he could not be overlooked when it came to the appointment of James McCartan's successor as manager of Down.

But what he perceived to be an embarrassingly hollow vote of confidence in August 2015 precipitated his departure, thus paving the way for present incumbent Eamonn Burns to assume command.

For someone who managed Armagh in tandem with John Morrison from 1992 until 1995 and who had achieved significant status, it may have been a bitter pill to swallow but McCorry's experiences on his global travels convinced him that there was rather more to life than football.

Now, upbeat and refreshingly candid, he is anticipating a new chapter in his life with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy.

"I was delighted to accept the invitation from Kieran McGeeney to become involved with his management team," revealed McCorry.

"I have been really impressed with what I have seen of the players to date and I am really looking forward to getting started with them properly. Kieran has done tremendous work with Armagh and I believe the team have in a way been unlucky that they have not made even more progress.

"My wife Roisin believes that Armagh are so very close to success that she has me convinced! But I think that if the team can get that little bit of extra confidence and that bit more cohesion, they can work wonders. I have seen this in my time with Mayobridge and Kilcoo and now I want to see it with Armagh.

"I think that Armagh may have lost matches lately they should have won but if they can learn to play with a bit of a swagger then I think they are capable of achieving things."

McCorry's cancer diagnosis may initially have been a setback but his positive outlook, obvious zest for life and desire to bring something to the table again in a sporting context have helped sustain him to such an extent that 24 hours would not appear to be sufficient in any given day to facilitate his busy itinerary.

"I have been touched by illness, yes, but you have to get on with life the best you can," said McCorry.

"You can't hide things. There are a lot of people out there with problems and I think they will be all the better for sharing them. I consider myself fortunate in many ways and I'm thankful that there is a man above looking after me."

His former managerial colleague Morrison has been among the first to hail McCorry's return to his native heath.

"Jim has the knack of being able to turn mediocre players into good players and good players into brilliant players," stated Morrison emphatically.

"He has an excellent pedigree as a manager and I have no doubt that he will prove a huge asset to the current Armagh management team.

"His track record speaks for itself and I have no doubt that he will earn the respect of the players very quickly. He has shown tremendous courage both in his personal life and also in his sporting capacity."

Given McCorry's vibrant approach, utter dedication and hunger for success, the feeling persists that Down's loss could ultimately prove to be Armagh's gain.

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