GAA Football

Aidan O'Rourke steps away from Armagh role

Kieran McGeeney is looking for a new assistant manager in 2017

ARMAGH boss Kieran McGeeney is on the look-out for a new assistant manager after Aidan O’Rourke stepped away from the role.

O’Rourke cited “pressures of time” preventing him from remaining in the role in 2017. The 2002 All-Ireland winning half-back is Queen’s GAA development officer and Freshers manager.

He is also heavily involved with his club Dromintee where he is coaching development officer and U10 football manager: “I wouldn’t be devoting the time that the players would be devoting and therefore I feel the best thing is moving aside to get somebody in who can give it more time and attention,” said O’Rourke.

McGeeney might be able to tempt former Orchard boss Paul Grimley back to the managerial set-up two years after handing the reins over to the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain.

Former team-mates John Toal and Paddy McKeever could also be attractive options for McGeeney. Toal is working with the county’s development squads while McKeever has taken over at Queen’s but his involvement there would conclude for the season around March time. Denis Holywood is currently assisting McGeeney with the Armagh seniors.

O’Rourke, who managed Louth for a couple of seasons, admitted that it wasn’t an easy decision to walk away from the Armagh seniors: “It was a hard decision to be honest. It’s Armagh, it’s Kieran and I don’t like not giving them my best," he said.

“But pressures of time are dictating to me right now. And the thing is, I think it’s a good time to be involved with Armagh because I believe they’re primed to have a good season and will make progress in 2017, and I obviously wish Kieran and the squad all the best.”

McGeeney and O’Rourke have been good friends from their playing days with Armagh. McGeeney recruited O’Rourke while he was managing Kildare, where he stayed for the 2010 and '11 seasons - the period when the Lilywhites were at their strongest.

In 2010, Kildare were desperately unlucky to lose an epic All-Ireland semi-final to Down and they had even less fortune the following summer, when Donegal beat them after extra-time.

Niall Carew, now Sligo boss, worked under McGeeney for five of his six seasons in charge of Kildare - and he believes O’Rourke was Geezer’s best assistant.

Paul Grimley, John Rafferty and Jason Ryan also served as assistant managers in Kildare while McGeeney was at the helm: “All the lads brought things to the table but Aidan O’Rourke was the full package,” said Carew.

“He was very unlucky. A small little bit of luck and Aidan would have got a lot of plaudits in Kildare. He was super. Aidan would have challenged Geezer a good bit which was healthy.”

Carew added: “Geezer does let you flourish if you want. Now if you want to stay in the background he’ll let you do that as well.

“But he does want you to challenge him quite a bit. It would be up to you to convince him of doing something - systems or whatever it is. I found Geezer very easy to work with.

"There’s no point going in as a selector or a coach with a folder under your arm and that's it... I enjoyed the five years working with him, I have to say.”

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