GAA Football

No travel burden on Kieran Donaghy as he hopes to add extra dimension to Armagh footballers

Former Kerry star Kieran Donaghy is looking forward to hooking up with Armagh and says his work in Dublin and the north makes the role feasible

KERRY legend Kieran Donaghy hopes he can add a “half a percent” to the Armagh footballers after accepting Kieran McGeeney’s offer to join his backroom team ahead of the 2021 season - and revealed he’s already being chided by his Tyrone relations for the surprise move.

And, contrary to popular belief, there won’t be many Tralee to Armagh treks as some people might imagine as Donaghy’s sales work with PST Sport – an all-island company that installs AstroTurf pitches – brings him regularly to the north and he's already based in Dublin part of his working week which, he says, makes the Armagh role feasible.

Armagh’s recruitment of the four-time All-Ireland winner sent shock waves through Ulster football as the Orchard men get geared up for their first crack at Division One under ‘Geezer’.

However, the appointment of Donaghy could act as the ideal pick-me-up for Armagh supporters following the side’s meek Ulster semi-final exit to Donegal last month, which prompted some raw analysis from boss McGeeney in the immediate aftermath.

‘Star’ revealed he was already in discussions with hooking up with McGeeney in Armagh before the side’s devastating 12-point defeat to Donegal.

Hired as a performance coach with the Galway hurlers last year, Donaghy has ambitions of becoming an inter-county manager one day and is looking forward to learning off ‘Geezer’ next season as well as adding some value to the Orchard men.

“I met Kieran and the management team the night they almost beat Mayo in Castlebar [June 2019] and I had a drink or two with them,” Donaghy said.

“Obviously we played International Rules and Kieran managed me in 2011 along with Anthony Tohill. He’s also married to a Kerry woman who I know, so I’ve met him a few times.

“It’s the chance to learn off someone like Kieran… that level of continuity in Armagh suggests to me he’s a serious operator and to work with him and the excellent backroom team that’s there already is important.

“It’s important for my development as a coach and to offer Kieran a fresh pair of eyes.”

He added: “At the end of the day I just want to add a half a percent to the set-up or as much as I can. They’ve got some serious quality, so I won’t be going in changing the wheel at all. It’s literally go in, step back and have a look and see where I feel there might be something I can help with and then get the chance to implement it with the management team. I think that bit of freshness is a big thing for Kieran.”

While Armagh have made progress during McGeeney’s six years in charge, they will need to find something extra to retain their Division One status next season - and their poor showing in the Ulster semi-final against Donegal merely reinforced that view.

Donaghy’s late father Oliver, who passed away in 2012, was a Tyrone man – and given his DNA, some of his relatives in the O’Neill County were surprised as anyone else at the news.

“Ah, a few of the family members have been onto me already”, joked Donaghy. “They’re congratulating me but at the same time being a small bit disappointed. I’m excited, it’s a challenge, my whole career has been about facing challenges.”

Donaghy hopes his big-game experience with Kerry over the years will add an extra dimension to the Armagh set-up and feels his basketball background can be of major benefit too.

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