GAA Football

Joe Kernan flicks through the archives in special two-part series

Joe Kernan charts his rise to the Sam Maguire

IN a special two-part feature, Armagh's All-Ireland winning manager Joe Kernan flicks through the mind's archives and recalls the highs and lows of managing his native county.

With contributions from former players Tony McEntee and Benny Tierney, we delve into the making of Joe Kernan the manager and Crossmaglen's unforgettable win over neighbours Mullaghbawn in 1996 before he went on to form a side that dominated Ulster in the early-to-mid-noughties.

McEntee says: “That game was the making or breaking of Joe. Had we lost to Mullaghbawn it would have been the end of Joe. No titles, no Armagh.

“After that, fortunes changed. We got a few breaks in Ulster and won the All-Ireland and the rest is history, as they say.”

After guiding Crossmaglen to three All-Ireland titles, Kernan took the Armagh reins and won Sam Maguire at his first attempt.

“I was ready for the Armagh job,” he says. “In the three previous seasons, the team that beat them won the All-Ireland. We were a kick of a ball away on so many days.

“You had players who had been through the mill. They had quality and, most important of all, you had players that were hurting from the few years previous. Once there's hurt there is always room for more.”

Benny Tierney reveals how Kernan talked him out of retiring from Armagh upon taking the job.

“You think about waking up in 12 months time and we've won an All-Ireland and you're not part of it,” Kernan said to Tierney.

In today's and Monday's edition, Kernan talks La Manga, Armagh's rivalry with Tyrone and the regret at not winning more than one All-Ireland title in his six years at the helm.

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