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Kieran McGeeney 'can ripen Orchard to revisit the good time'

By Declan Bogue

The potential impact Kieran McGeeney can have as Armagh manager has been hailed by one of the players that benefited from his input last year.

Aidan Forker suffered a horrific knee injury in early February while playing against Louth in the National League.

He initially thought it might have been a cruciate ligament tear, but after what he describes as "a scary time", he discovered while the cruciate was merely strained, his medial ligament and cartilage were torn.

It left him kicking his heels on the sidelines for three and-a-half months, missing all of Armagh's league campaign, but also gave him some time for reflection on his role for the county team.

When he did emerge fit for the Championship, it was as a deep-lying wing-forward, joining attacks late to great effect. It cemented his place as an important component of the Armagh gameplan.

"Obviously I could not train to show my worth, so I did a lot of studying of the team to see where I could maybe fit in and have a bigger role by the time I would come back," the 22-year-old student teacher at St Mary's College revealed.

"I had a lot of chats with Kieran and Paul and all the rest of the management team about my role. I don't like to speak for myself but I was put into that role because of my attributes and that role suited me pretty well."

With McGeeney named as the new manager on a five-year term on Wednesday night, Forker is excited for what 2015 might bring.

At the moment he is gearing up for Maghery's second round Championship clash against St Killian's of Whitecross tonight after missing out on all club football this season.

But when the prospect of next season is raised, he knows he will be coming into an ambitious county set-up.

"Having experienced him this year, he brought a lot to the panel this year and hopefully he will be able to bring a lot more as a manager," Forker said.

While the Mullaghban man was initially brought in as a selector by Paul Grimley, Forker backs up the theory that he was much more than that, stating; "I would say he had a significant voice last year with him and Paul being very close. But I suppose he will have more next year and that can only be good because of what he brought this year."

Asked for one of McGeeney's main attributes, he explains, "It's a clarity of purpose. Everyone knows their role inside out and if you don't know your role you will not be involved in the team.

"Everyone thinks Kieran has a Mister Motivator thing, and he can be when he needs to be, but tactically, I think that's where his true strengths lie."

McGeeney's work with Kildare would back this assertion up. While there, he re-invented Emmet Bolton's game, and has achieved something similar with Forker.

"I just knew my role was to help out in defence and be an outlet for the ball coming out," describes the former out-and-out attacker.

"Through working with Paul and Kieran, I didn't really realise the hard work and the hard runs it took to get into those positions.

"This year it clicked with me about the hard work it takes and thankfully I was on the team."

McGeeney has yet to make any public comment on his new role while his work as performance consultant with Tipperary could be under consideration.

There is also speculation surrounding the make-up of his backroom team. He is expected to retain Strength and Conditioning expert Julie Davis, who also worked with him in Kildare, while Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry has been strongly linked with a selector role.

Belfast Telegraph


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