ONE of Jim McCorry's key responsibilities with Armagh will be to teach the Orchardmen how to turn narrow defeats into season-transforming wins.
The Lurgan native, who was confirmed as part of Armagh backroom team this week, has been drafted in to help teach Kieran McGeeney side how to “close out” games and ensure that winning positions aren’t squandered late in tight games.
That won’t be his only role of course and McCorry – who held the Armagh reins during the mid-90s – said it was “great to be back” working alongside McGeeney with a panel of players that aren’t “far away” from achieving the success they threatened last season.
Last season’s highlight was a win over Kildare at Croke Park that saw Armagh through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals. However, defeat to Tipperary (in the final round of Division Three games), Down (in the Ulster Championship) and Tyrone (in that All-Ireland quarter-final) took the shine of an otherwise good season.
“There were games last year that should never have got away,” said former Down manager McCorry.
“There are a lot of simple things that can help improve that. A lot of the things that happened in regards to not getting over the line are things we can control and they are things that we will work on.
“2017 was a very good year but it could have been a brilliant year. From what I’ve seen of Armagh so far and what I’ve known of them from the last few years, I don’t think they’re going to be that far away. It maybe just needs that wee push in certain areas to get over the line.”
Losing to Tipperary last year means Armagh are stuck in Division Three again next year and they will begin their promotion push without James Morgan, arguably their best defender, and Jamie Clarke, arguably their best forward, as well as Ciaron O’Hanlon who is also in Australia. Despite those losses, McCorry says Armagh has a “very strong panel of players to work with”.
“In terms of who is there and who is not, it’s very early days to talk about who we’ll have for next year,” says McCorry.
“There’s a long way to go until May when we play Fermanagh in the Ulster Championship.
“We’ll take the McKenna Cup first with the players who are available and we’ll go forward with that.
“You want to have your best players there and whoever is there will be giving 100 per cent. We’ll finalise the squad at a later date but the bottom line is that we’ll have a very strong panel of players to work with.”
McCorry will slot into an established backroom team that already includes Denis Hollywood, Paddy McKeever, John Toal, Paul Kelly and Julie Davis. His experience - which includes Down league and championship titles with Kilcoo and Mayobridge – will certainly add value to the set-up.
“This is the first time I’ve gone in when I haven’t actually been the manager but in all the coaching teams I’ve been with we all work together,” he said
“It’ll be the same in Armagh. Geezer is the man in charge and he’ll make the final call on it but the bottom line is; it’s a team.
“I’m not planning to go in and change the whole style of football but there are things that need worked on that we’ve discussed already and other things that we’ll develop throughout the year. “There’ll be areas of my speciality that we’ll work on, but overall I’ll be involved with coaching the team because modern day football isn’t about defenders and forwards, there is a style of football that we need to be playing.
“Armagh want to play attacking football and we’ll encourage the team to do that. As Geezer would say: ‘It’s not the finished article yet, it’s a work in progress’. A wee bit of luck with decisions and breaks of the ball would help as well.”