Former Armagh star Oisín McConville has paid tribute to departing boss Paul Grimley, saying he restored pride in the Orchard County.
Grimley resigned after two years in charge in the aftermath of his side’s one-point loss to Donegal in the All-Ireland quarter-final on Sunday, after Ulster and qualifier wins over Cavan, Tyrone, Roscommon and Meath.
“The job in hand this year was restoring a little bit of pride in Armagh football,” 2002 All-Ireland winner McConville told RTÉ Sport.
“It wasn’t about winning All-Irelands. It was about the possibility of winning an Ulster title.
“After the league Armagh [relegated to Division 3] was at a very low point. We weren’t sure how we were going to go in the championship.
“A lot of people fancied us not even to get past Cavan. We sort of built a lot of momentum from that, we completely changed the style of play, which needed to happen.
“We were very naïve last year but we completely changed the style of play and we got a lot of success out of it.
"Armagh football always needs that bit of enthusiasm, it always needs a bit of a buzz"
“Armagh football always needs that bit of enthusiasm, it always needs a bit of a buzz. Spectators had voted with their feet in the previous number of years.
“There was a real negative attitude towards the team and that reverberated through to the players as well because there was a lot of Armagh players who weren’t that fussed about whether they played for Armagh or not. That’s gone, everyone wants to play for Armagh now.”
Current selector and former Kildare boss Kieran McGeeney is expected to take over the reins with Grimley stating “there’s no better man to lead Armagh forward”.
If that happens, McConville reckons that the former Armagh captain can build on their success this season.
He added: “I think he’ll do something similar to what he did in Kildare. Physically and aerobically they’ll be as powerful as any team in the country. I think that’s the base that Kieran likes to start off [from].
“The one thing he can add to that, which I don’t feel he had, maybe I’m being a bit unkind on Kildare, but one thing I feel he can add to that he didn’t have in Kildare is natural forwards, and the ability of boys to kick the ball over the bar and stick it in the net when you’re under pressure.
“[He] brings his professional attitude, how he wants boys to train, how he wants them to think about the game. Add all those things together.
“But the one thing every big, big team needs is those quality forwards and Armagh certainly have them and have also unearthed a few towards the end of this year as well.”