GAA Football

Mickey Trainor steps down after 11 years of sterling service with Armagh

Armagh and Donegal will clash in Division One North this year. Picture Margaret McLaughlin.
Andy Watters

OVER the last 11 years, Mickey Trainor was usually the first Armagh man to arrive at the gates of grounds from Ballybofey to Killarney.

After his van pulled up, Mickey got to work and from laying out jerseys and filling water bottles to setting out footballs and cones, the Forkhill native did whatever was required to make things easier for the men who took the field to play for his county.

One of the army of unsung heroes who make the GAA the amazing organisation it is, Mickey served under three Armagh managers - Paddy O’Rourke, Paul Grimley and Kieran McGeeney - fulfilling a role that may be unglamorous and often goes unnoticed but is absolutely indispensable.

He decided to call it a day last week after more than a decade in the role of kitman which began when he was asked to join the Armagh backroom team by a combination of O’Rourke and former sponsor Hughie Morgan in 2010. He agreed to “give it a try” and since then Armagh have played every other senior county in either League or Championship bar London, Carlow and Waterford and a remarkable journey for the former Forkhill club chairman, secretary and manager has come to an end with Armagh back in Division One, which is where they were when he started.

“You don’t do it unless you enjoy it,” he says.

“If you weren’t enjoying it, you wouldn’t be doing it. There was nobody holding a gun to any of our heads to be there and I couldn’t have worked with any better bunch of players in my life, I’ll tell you that.

“No matter what you were doing they were there, they were at your beck-and-call for help.

“There’s not one of them – in any of the bunches of players that I was involved with – who would have said: ‘Ah do it yourself’. They would all help you carry stuff in and give you a hand to get stuff ready if you hadn’t time.

“You couldn’t have worked with a better bunch of fellas or as good a manager as Kieran McGeeney, he’s a good man. He looked after everybody well no matter who they were.

“There’s nothing you could say wrong about any of them and the messages I got over the last week from all of them has been exceptional.”

Mickey – who worked alongside Paddy McNamee - admits that he will miss being involved with the Orchardmen who will begin the 2021 season in Division One North with Ulster rivals Monaghan, Tyrone and Donegal.

He turns 70 this year but is still working caretaker of Forkhill Primary School and intends to remain there “for a couple of years yet”.

“The time comes when you have to call it a day,” he said and he is looking forward to being able to cheer the team on from the stands in the future.

“I’ll be able to go for the weekend and maybe stay in a hotel and cheer them on and then come back up the road the next day,” he said.

“I hope the next 11 years will bring an Ulster title and I hope it comes sooner rather than later. It’s there for them, things get harder every year but it’s not beyond them, not one bit. I’m just sorry it didn’t come in my time because I would have loved to have been there. But I was there for a couple of Division Three titles and promotion last year.”

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GAA Football