GAA Football

Cancer scares has made me appreciate my coaching days: Jim McCorry

Jim McCorry has joined Kieran McGeeney in Armagh 12 months later than expected

ARMAGH coach Jim McCorry says two cancer scares have made him appreciate every day on the training field and he hopes it’s a long time before he leaves the coaching stage.

Now in his 29th year coaching, the Armagh native has twice overcome cancer – in 1998 and 2017 – and paid tribute to Kieran McGeeney for giving him the opportunity to be involved with the Orchard panel.

In ’98, McCorry had a tumour removed from his left leg and last year he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Speaking ahead of Saturday night’s Ulster Championship clash with Fermanagh in Brewster Park, McCorry says the one good thing about his more recent bout of ill-health is that he enjoys football more than ever.

“Sometimes as coaches we get a wee bit ahead of ourselves,” McCorry said, “We take things for granted. But I feel I can enjoy it more. What I went through I wouldn’t want anybody to go through – and I came out the other side of it. And that’s the second [cancer] scare I had.

“I had it in ’98. I had a tumour in a muscle in my leg. It was around the time I was with Mayobridge.

“I’ve been very, very lucky. People say I’m a lucky coach – not a good coach. I’ve been lucky with my health as well and things were caught early.

“It does make you appreciate things a bit more, including your time in football. This is actually my 29th year in coaching and I enjoy it as much as the first day. I love it. I get such a buzz out of it.

“I really don’t want the day to come when I have to hang up the coaching boots. You don’t want it to happen when you’re a player and it’s the same in coaching.”

At the beginning of last season, McGeeney wanted the former Down manager to be part of his backroom team – but 'Geezer' was forced to wait 12 months to get his man.

“Kieran contacted me the Thursday before I had the operation, thinking that Armagh were due to play Down in the Championship and he was needing a bit of information on them.

“We had a cup of coffee but he asked me to come in and work with him. I told him that I was due in for the operation the following Monday, so the whole discussion changed.

“He said: ‘If you want to come back next year if you’re feeling okay.’

“I thought nothing of it and I guessed he’d get somebody else in and, in fairness, he contacted me almost a year to the day and said: ‘I told you I would be back a year later. Would you come in and help us?’

“He’d been in touch and he knew I was doing okay, health-wise, so it was an easy decision.”

McCorry has praised the the tight-knit nature of the Armagh squad and says the players are closer than ever after their four-day training camp in Portugal at the end of April.

McCorry, who managed Armagh in the early 1990s, says if his latest posting is his “last hurrah” he’s glad it’s on home soil.

“You kind of reach the point where the age factor maybe comes into it,” he said.

“You’re going to have to hang the boots up as a player some day and you might have to do the same as a manager or coach. If this is the last hurrah, it’s nice that I’m in my own backyard, where I started off. I got a buzz with the idea of coming back in and I got a buzz when I met the players and got the boots on and I still feel that way.”

Armagh gained promotion to Division Two earlier this season, beating Fermanagh in the League decider to go up as champions. The two sides played out a low-scoring draw a couple of weeks earlier.

In the immediate aftermath of their Division Three title, McGeeney wasn’t reading anything into Armagh’s two-point win at Croke Park and felt the tight confines of Brewster Park would be advantageous to the Ernemen.

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