Kennedy keen on Orchard rise of ash
Tuesday, 22 January 2013
ARMAGH'S new hurling manager David Kennedy has been impressed with the talent within the county but will be taking a cautious walk before you can run approach in pre-season.
With trials and training underway Kennedy an All-Ireland winner with Tipperary in 2001, is expected to select his squad later this week, ahead of the Keogh Cup on Sunday, January 20.
Over recent seasons the Orchard hurling fraternity has found it difficult to find their feet, despite making progress up the rungs of development.
Having finally won the Nicky Rackard Cup in 2010, after five years of trying, they made the breakthrough the county needed. In 2011 the Christy Ring competition seemed a tier too far but then they battled Antrim all the way in Armagh's first appearance in an Ulster Senior Hurling Final in over 50 years.
Last season, the league was of mixed results, the Ulster Championship failed to ignite as the Nicky Rackard Cup took centre-stage and was won again.
At club level Middletown reached the Intermediate All-Ireland Final, but failed to play to their potential in Croke Park.
This year, Armagh will compete in Division 2B in the National Hurling League, with rivals Down, old foes London, Meath, Roscommon and Mayo in their group, while the Orchard County will also compete in the Christy Ring competition.
Kennedy is wary of making any grand promises of silverware but sees his job as improving on the progress that has been made with previous managers such as Mattie Lennon and Michael Johnston.
“I wouldn't say we have set our goals to win the League or Christy Ring Cup but as we go through the year we will be revisiting goals. For the minute we don't have any long-term goals other than play in the Keogh Cup and finalise the panel for the league," said Kennedy.
“The brief I was given was to help move Armagh hurling to the next level. Having won the Nicky Rackard for a few years and playing in the Christy Ring, they had puzzling results in the league last year so it would be good to stabilise a bit and give ourselves a chance in league games."
With there being only seven hurling clubs in Armagh, Kennedy is acutely aware he has a small pool to pick from and he is hoping that more clubs, thus players will pick up the stick.
“There are talented hurlers around I can see that with the sessions we have had," he said.
“The structures in Armagh is going to be difficult because there is a limited number of hurling clubs within the county so I suppose from that point of view the aim would be to increase the number of hurling clubs in Armagh and the standard within those clubs.
“That said, Middletown reaching the All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling Final last year is not to be sniffed at.
“Armagh really needs to increase the volume of hurlers
coming through which isn't easy with football being the dominant
“But you can't flick a switch, that doesn't happen overnight there is a lot of good work going on in hurling in Armagh and that needs to keep progressing at a slow and steady pace."
As a passionate hurler he is keen to see the sport rise in popularity in Armagh and as the senior hurlers are the shop window for the
rest of the county Kennedy is in for the long-haul of developing hurling.
“I would love to be involved in Armagh hurling in another three years but I am a firm believer that in GAA you have no
contracts, it is very much performance related and as long as I am doing my job properly and the people in Armagh are happy with what I am doing I'll be happy to build on that," he said.
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