GAA Football

Aidan Forker heaps praise on Maghery boss Shane McConville

Maghery's Aidan Forker hopes to make it two county senior titles in a row against Armagh Harps on Sunday 

MAGHERY’S Aidan Forker has heaped praise on his club manager Shane McConville and says there’s no better man at “humbling you with a bit of training and a few words” ahead of the next game.

Forker is confident the Maghery players will be back down to earth for Sunday’s county championship final with Armagh Harps following their epic semi-final win over Crossmaglen Rangers.

The championship holders hit ‘Cross with two first-half goals and while they endured an early second-half comeback from the south Armagh men, Maghery regained their composure to win by three points.

Despite winning their first-ever senior county title last year they were chided for not having to deal with the daunting shadow of Crossmaglen.

St Patrick’s Cullyhanna defeated ‘Cross in last year’s semi-final before they fell to Maghery in the decider.

“It’s a different challenge than last year,” Forker acknowledged.

“Last year we were watching the semi-final thinking it was going to be ‘Cross and it didn’t happen and we had to re-jig our mindset.

“We knew if we put on a good performance and everyone was an eight or nine-out-of-10 we wouldn’t be far away [against Cullyhanna]. It was the same against ’Cross this year.”

Maghery, who beat ’Cross twice in this year’s championship, will want to win back-to-back titles and prove that last year wasn’t a mere flash in the pan.

“I think that’s down to Shane and what he instils in us. It’s one game at a time and that’s as far as we look.

“If we get over the final we can talk about legacy but you don’t rest on your laurels with Shane.

“We’ll be training very hard and Shane won’t be long in bringing you back down to earth and humbling you with a bit of training and a few words.

“Everybody is vitally important to this team and we know everybody is going to do their job. We had a good start against ’Cross, we had momentum – momentum in a game is massive.”

Forker added: “We know that Harps won’t fear us in any way. It’s going to be a good, tight game… It’ll be reset and go again.

“Shane is very good that way and thinks very deeply about the game. He talks very well individually and as a team and we know every time we go out we’re in a good place. He reads the changing room really, really well.”

Harps, who came through their county semi-final against Ballymacnab, will have the same difficulties that Crossmaglen faced in trying to find a way past Maghery’s impressive midfield duo of James Lavery and Ben Crealey.

The Maghery pair, along with Stefan Forker playing as a third midfielder, were immense in their famous victory over Crossmaglen Rangers.

“James and Ben are a massive asset to us and they’ve dominated every game this year,” said Forker, who’s playing in a full-forward role.

“Ben is a massive player for Maghery and hopefully for Armagh come the New Year.

“He’s a very level-headed man and is always willing to learn; the same with Ciaran Higgins and those boys.

“Shane is moulding those boys over the last two or three years along with the other coaches within the club so it’s a massive asset to have them.”

While Forker is used to playing in a wing-back role with Armagh, McConville feels he has the ability and feet to make an impression in Maghery’s full-forward line.

Shadowed everywhere by county team-mate James Morgan in their September 30 semi-final in The Athletic Grounds, Forker picked off two points from play and converted two frees.

“Morgan is one of the top defenders in Ulster and I knew it was going to be tough.

“We had a good tussle. It’s great to be in that company especially at this time of year.

“There are boys not training at all at this time of year and I’m delighted to be playing in a top competition against boys like James. It’ll only make me a better player, hopefully.”

And Forker isn’t complaining about being liberated from defensive duties at club level.

“You have to tweak your training a bit [playing in full-forward], tweak your skills training a wee bit.

“It helps me to become an all-round player. Hopefully it makes me a wee bit sharper in front of goal when I go back to Armagh. I’m enjoying the role and I think I’ve a lot of offer in the role as well.

“Sometimes it’s a wee bit easier than the number seven role – the death shift, as I call it. I’m enjoying it and Shane has confidence in me playing in there.”

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