This time last year Paul Grimley’s commitment to Kildare was absolute. As No 2 to manager Kieran McGeeney, the former Armagh assistant boss had a major input into coaching and tactical preparation with the Lily Whites.
But tomorrow self-employed businessman Grimley will be doing his utmost to bring the curtain down on Kildare’s championship season in his role as coach to the Monaghan side that is desperately seeking redemption following Sunday’s capitulation against Tyrone in the Ulster final.
The outcome of the Farney county’s fourth round qualifier against McGeeney’s improved side may well determine the future of manager Seamus McEnaney — and indeed that of Grimley himself — but for the moment the emphasis is totally on achieving a restoration of pride.
McEnaney’s trenchant condemnation of his team’s display against Tyrone as “totally unacceptable” has lent further intensity to training this week and with skipper Vinny Corey and John Paul Mone unlikely to make the starting line-up because of injuries, the Monaghan management will be shorn of two of their defensive planks.
While Grimley’s inside knowledge of Kildare will help Monaghan’s build-up for what is a must-win game, the coach himself concedes they face “a giant task” in their bid to reclaim championship credibility.
“We did not play anywhere near our capabilities against Tyrone,” he said.
“Maybe we started well but after half-time it became clear that there was only going to be one team in it.
“Our players are not as bad as that. They can play an awful lot better and while all teams feel that qualifier matches tend to come thick and fast we have to be up for this challenge.”
In tandem with McGeeney, Grimley helped to fashion the current Kildare side and his imprimatur has been in evidence.
The Lily Whites have beaten Antrim (after a replay), Leitrim and Derry in the qualifiers to date and although McGeeney expressed reservations about the level of the performances in their first two games that resounding defeat of Derry in Celtic Park will, Grimley feels, send them in against Monaghan in good heart.
“Kildare have shown that they have a lot of good individual players but their cohesion has improved too,” states Grimley.
“And they would appear to have strength on the bench. I would be very aware of their resources and my brief now is to try and help Monaghan to produce the form of which I know them to be capable.
“We have not become a bad team overnight nor have we any intention of surrendering our championship ambitions.
“There is a lot of pride at stake in this match and I hope that this will manifest itself in our display.”
Between them John Doyle and Eamonn Callaghan scored 1-12 of Kildare’s total of 2-17 against Derry and Grimley sees this duo in particular as forming a potent threat to Monaghan’s well-being.
“There is no doubt that Kildare possess quality forwards who can thrive on the possession that Dermot Earley and Darryl Flynn win at midfield,” adds Grimley.
“But we have to try and ensure that they don’t get the upper hand around the middle. Our players are going to have to work very hard indeed in this area.”