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Paul Grimley determined to lead Armagh's charge

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Paul Grimley is going precisely nowhere – apart from to Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon on Saturday, that is.

Grimley, perturbed at reports that he will be handing over the reins to his No 2 Kieran McGeeney, is steadfastly committed to implementing the three-year plan which he has drawn up in relation to the development of the new-look Armagh squad.

And he confirms that he is "solely focused" on taking Armagh as far as he possibly can in the All-Ireland series.

In the wake of Sunday's win over Tyrone, there has been speculation that Kieran McGeeney might step into the hot seat sooner rather than later but both he and Grimley, along with the rest of the management team, share an obsession to restore Armagh as a football power.

"We are in the second year of what is a three-year re-building programme," points out Grimley. "We have young players coming through but as I said when I took on the job, we would require fans to be patient.

"While there is no doubt that a win like that gained over Tyrone last weekend can further galvanise a squad going forward, this has to be viewed in the overall context of what we are trying to achieve in terms of bringing on and developing players and the system of playing which we have put in place."

He may have endured difficulties early in the season when a rash of injuries decimated his squad but Grimley's quiet determination and strong focus on dealing with problems as they arise has helped to bring Armagh further down the championship road than had been initially anticipated.

"We have been trying to inculcate belief within the squad and we are getting there," adds Grimley. "We don't need unnecessary distractions. I will be reassuring my players and my management team at training that we will be going forward united by a common bond and we certainly don't need any further distractions. I am solely focused on bringing Armagh as far as possible."

While he has never made any secret of the fact that he does not wish to match the longevity of managers such as Mickey Harte or even perhaps James McCartan, Grimley insists that he will be giving Armagh "100 per cent effort" for the foreseeable future.

And rather than dwell on his own future, he is much more concerned with the threat Roscommon will pose on Saturday.

"They represent the first non-Ulster side we will be meeting in the championship this year so to a certain extent we don't know what to expect," insists Grimley.

"But if you look at Roscommon, they have won the All-Ireland Under-21 title, they ran Mayo very, very close in the Connacht final and they beat Cavan to win the Division Three title before winning comfortably against them in the qualifiers last Saturday.

"That's not a bad playing record by any standards. They have a good manager in John Evans who has been getting the best out of his players and who just like ourselves is trying to nurture younger players as they progress."

The fact, too, that Roscommon will be playing at home could provide considerable benefits for them according to Grimley.

"Hyde Park is never an easy venue to go to," he concedes. "Not too many teams relish playing there and after the manner in which they overcame Cavan last weekend, the Roscommon team can justifiably expect that their fans will be out in force to see them play against us.

"They will have the bit between their teeth and we know that while they have good individual players they also have adopted a system of play with which they are comfortable as they showed in particular when they came so close to upsetting the Connacht applecart against Mayo."

And Grimley's patient tutelage of a fresh generation of Armagh starlets has already provided him with what he feels is a significant bonus.

"One of the encouraging features as I see it is that we have a spread of players in our panel from all areas of the county.

"Maybe in the past there might have been a concentration of players from one particular area of the county but our squad is now truly representative of Armagh as a whole and that's certainly very heartening from my perspective."

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