Tuesday, 15 October 2013
KIERAN McGeeney's return to Armagh is the shot in the arm the Orchard County needs, according to Democrat columnist Oisin McConville and new county speed coach James Doyle.
McConville won Armagh's only All-Ireland title under McGeeney's captaincy and, as Paul Grimley was assistant manager in the 2002 win, things in Armagh look a little bit rosier.
And Doyle, who is Armagh's new speed coach, believes McGeeney's inclusion in the management team will have players jumping out of their skin to play for man popularly known as Geezer.
It's understood that McGeeney's role is selector and team coach. His duties will include picking players and taking control of training.
It is also expected that McGeeney's high profile name means he will have a significant part to play in much-needed fundraising.
With Paul McGrane heading the Orchard Academy along with Denis Hollywood, and Steven McDonnell taking on the manager role of the County U21, the Armagh County Board is building for the future, but that doesn't mean the Senior team can't be challenging in the next two seasons.
McGeeney is expected to have a squad assembled by the start of the National League. And if his period in Kildare is anything to go by, then the McKenna Cup won't be the dead duck it has been over recent seasons for Armagh.
In his Democrat Column, Oisin says he has spoken to McGeeney and is impressed with what he has heard.
Oisin said: "I have told him that he has the players to work with and that we have the players in Armagh, maybe not in the present squad, but in the county, that are capable of challenging and better than what he had in Kildare.
“It is time to get working now, Armagh have the players that need some strength and conditioning. I hope we can hit the ground running next season. If you look at Kieran's record with Kildare he did well in the O'Byrne Cup and did a good job in the League and I expect that will happen with Armagh.
We will take the League seriously and be ready come the start of the Ulster Championship. We have good draw, because revenge is always an easy motivator.
Next year is about building, unearthing a few players and start building with players you believe will perform in the Championship."
Doyle who has previously worked with Crossmaglen Rangers, county hurling teams Wexford and Kilkenny, as well as winning world titles playing one-wall handball, is keen to work with Paul Grimley and McGeeney.
“I have been lucky to work in many different counties but it is different to work with the county I live in and of course Kieran brings a whole new dimension to the thing as well," said Doyle.
“I am looking forward to working with McGeeney. He is one of the top coaches and managers in the country and it will give the whole county a lift. I suppose the prodigal son has returned.
“It will bring me on and hopefully bring everyone else on. Sure boys are going to go mad to play for him and there will be no-one hesitating to join the county squad now. Sure who doesn't want to play for McGeeney?"
Doyle has revealed to the Democrat that his role will be to speed the game up, while Julie Davies has been brought in to work on strength and condition.
“I will be looking after the whole speed element of the team. I will work on getting the players carrying the ball faster, generally getting faster on their feet. So I will be doing drills, working on acceleration, working on the mechanics of speed.
“I will be looking for players to buy into the speed ethos. To get players moving at high speed, and working hard on creating a speed environment so everything is done at high pace."
But the former Newry and Mourne Sports Personality winner insists this won't but an end to playing the quick long passing game but instead will complement such a game-plan.
“It won't detract from the quick ball.
“It will all tie in, for example, if you are able to get into the spaces quicker then the ball should be coming in quicker - the whole game should be speeded up really."
And he also is keen to stress he won't be turning the team into an athletics team and the everything will evolve around making the players better footballers.
“They can be fast as hares but that's no good to Armagh unless they can kick the ball over the bar too."
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