IT would appear that the majority of Armagh fans have welcomed the recent appointment of Paul Grimley as the new county senior manager.
Grimley, who had been mooted as the natural successor to Joe Kernan who stepped down at the end of 2007, was assistant manager with Kildare, Monaghan and Meath and his placement with Armagh is his first inter-county job where he has full control.
Many supporters are delighted that the Armagh County Board have move quickly to put a new man in charge following Paddy O’Rourke’s two year reign which ended with a defeat to a lowly Roscommon side resulting in the scenario that Armagh are now being seen in some quarters as being a ‘third tier’ team in terms of challenging for honours.
Had the County Board hesitated in appointing a new Armagh manager, several issues may have arisen in the interim period but the recent development will give the Pearse Óg man time to set his back up team in place and prepare properly for the 2013 season.
A minority of supporters, however, might suggest that Armagh should have chosen a manager with no links to any of the past regimes, something which would have been difficult and may have effectively seen the search for a new team boss being conducted outside the county.
Paul Grimley has stated that his second in command will be Brendan Hughes who had been part of the successful management team which won the All-Ireland minor title back in 2009.
It will be interesting to see what sort of relationship the new Armagh boss forges with All-Ireland club champions Crossmaglen Rangers. In this season’s championship season, only Johnny Hanratty, Aaron Kernan and Jamie Clarke were used consistently by O’Rourke and Grimley may or may not wish to utilise more Crossmaglen players in the 2013 campaign but, like previous Armagh managers, he could be without the south Armagh contingent for a lengthy period.
The former Pearse Óg player, however, would be seen as balanced and fair in terms of treatment of players from all parts of the county and equality can be guaranteed under his management.
The task, however, facing the new Armagh manager certainly cannot be underestimated.
The Orchard County have been easily dismissed from the All-Ireland series for the past three seasons and the defeat against Roscommon suggested that the side and its management were facing underlying problems.
With O’Rourke resigning immediately following the defeat in Hyde Park and Paul Grimley’s rolling one-year term having been ratified by the Armagh clubs, a new beginning can start. The real battle though may be to re-engage fans who have lost confidence in the county and are no longer supporting the team in big numbers.
Recent Ulster defeats for both the minors and the under 21s in Championship football would be seen as a concern, particularly following years of intense development squad initiatives.
The new team boss will be keen to recruit free scoring forwards, which has been the side’s Achilles heel in modern times.
But Grimley, who would be seen as an avid Armagh man, can be guaranteed to give the Armagh job his best shot.
He is tactically astute and his attitude to intense training, with particular emphasis being placed on the tackle, will provide any Armagh team under his leadership with the dynamic to move forward with confidence.