Tuesday, 7 November 2017

ARMAGH HEROES ANSWER CALLING. thumbnail FIONNUALA McAtamney (left) and Lorraine McCaffrey with the Armagh Senior Championship trophy in 2013.

ARMAGH Ladies will be under new management next season but incoming joint gaffers Fionnuala McAtamney and Lorraine McCaffrey could hardly be more familiar faces, writes Richard Bullick.

The top pair were unveiled on Sunday night as the County Board's choice to take over the reins from Tyrone native Sean O'Kane and the announcement has been warmly welcomed by the Armagh players.

It is understood that player representatives were well consulted this time around the appointment process and the highly-regarded duo of McCaffrey and McAtamney have received a ringing endorsement from those they will be working with.

Their immediate task is to prepare Armagh for what will be a challenging NFL Division Two campaign as they attempt to return to top flight football at the first attempt following relegation in 2017.

The two women taking the Orchard helm are very familiar figures in local ladies gaelic circles having been heavily involved in Armagh football at all levels for a prolonged period.

Fermanagh native McCaffrey was a key member of the all-female management team also featuring Hayley Boyle and Jacqui Clarke which completely transformed the Orchard outfit's fortunes in the mid-noughties.

Meanwhile McAtamney was the All Star nominee goalkeeper for that Armagh team which reached the Orchard county's only All Ireland final appearance to date, agonisingly losing to champions Cork by a single point in the 2006 showpiece in Croke Park.

The previous season, the women in orange had lifted the All Ireland second tier title and they went on to win historic back-to-back Ulster Senior Championships either side of that near miss against Cork.

Since then McCaffrey and McAtamney have forged a formidable managerial partnership which has proved productive at Belfast club Bredagh and with Carrickcruppen.

They delivered an unexpected county title with Cruppen in 2013 and took the club to another Orchard decider this year after being brought on board mid-season.

A relatively small number of players remain from McCaffrey's previous spell as an Armagh joint manager but McAtamney was more recently involved as part of James Daly's backroom team up until the end of the 2015 season.

Well-qualified for the job of managing at the highest level, very experienced, passionate about Armagh football and meticulous in their approach, McCaffrey and McAtamney come with a well-developed knowledge of the local ladies scene.

Like new Armagh Ladies County Board chairperson Sinead Reel, the pair are tough task-masters who will demand the highest standards and leave no stone unturned in the quest to bring fresh success to the Orchard county.

"I'm proud and delighted that we're able to announce these two women as our new senior team management because both are individuals of the highest calibre," said Reel.

"They 've a great track record of working together in partnership in various settings over recent years, their hearts are in Armagh football and they know the local scene very well so will be able to hit the ground running.

"I absolutely believe we have the talent in Armagh to challenge for the highest honours in ladies football and I don't think there's anybody better than Fionnuala and Lorraine to ensure that potential produces success.

"They will put heart and soul into their new roles and we at the County Board will make every effort to ensure that they and the players have everything they need in the coming year .

"We had more than 250 attending our annual awards on Saturday night and there was such a positive vibe.

I want every element of ladies football in our county to feel connected because each has an important part to play in building the bright future for Armagh that we all want," she insisted.


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