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McGeeney's got to be top dog in the Orchard - Carew

IT'S the thing everyone's saying about Armagh … even if no-one's saying it directly to Armagh.

Kieran McGeeney as number two? To Paul Grimley?

Not since Roy Keane agreed 
to be the Barney Rubble to 
Martin O'Neill's Fred Flintstone has such a sporting management alignment seemed so bottom and top heavy.

"I would say that it's rightly so that he is being touted as the main man there," says Niall Carew, who himself worked with - but most certainly under - McGeeney for five years in Kildare.

"No disrespect to anyone that's working with him now, but I would never have worked with anyone as good as Kieran McGeeney."

Whatever the reality of the Grimley/McGeeney relationship or the breakdown of responsibilities, this year and all it has contained for Armagh fits in very neatly with the 'Geezer' narrative.

Last season, 'meek' was the adjective most regulary utilised to described their season.


They're a victory from Meath away from an All-Ireland 
quarter-final and were probably just a couple of suspensions shy of beating Monaghan the day they drew in Clones.

They've been involved in two 
pre-game mills. And they're currently invoking a media ban, seen as the outward expression of something labeled a 'siege mentality' by those at whom it is aimed.

Indeed, Grimley's one breach of said veto was made in order to reject reports that he would be stepping aside to allow McGeeney take over as numero uno at the end of the year.

"With Kieran ... it's psychology more than anything," says Carew. "To get lads to up their performance. To get them to improve.

"The motivational stuff ... while he is quite good at it, I would feel his stronger points would be getting players to work on areas where they need to improve on.

"And the areas that they're already good at as well."

Certainly, it's difficult to manage a subservient McGeeney. Even as a player, with Armagh and Na Fianna, his influence on the atmosphere within the squad, if not always tactics and/or team selection, was pronounced.

And remember, it was Grimley who served as McGeeney's number two when the men last worked together in Kildare in 2009.

"He has the leadership skills but he also has the demeanour where everyone wants to perform for him," Carew adds.


"That's what you want. A manager who players want to perform for. That's why, when I was there with him, we would have gotten to five quarter-finals and a semi-final."

"People would be guessing what way he is by looking at him on the television," he says, referring to the accusation that the inherent negativity of blaming printed publications, broadcasters et al for the suspensions incurred from the Cavan fiasco was in keeping with the public perception of a grimly serious, at times stony McGeeney.

"But I've worked with him and he's a gentleman. He's a very good friend of mine, as well.

"And for me, he's so obsessive in everything he does."

"And that rubs off on management and players that are working with him.

"And that's what he is. He's so driven to get what he wants.

"Even though we came up a little bit short once or twice, we were always very competitive.

"It's one of those, 'you have to come live with me if you want to know me'. But he's the best I've ever worked with.

"It's a massive boost for Armagh and Tipperary (hurlers, with whom McGeeney also works)," Carew adds. "It's no coincidence that both of them are going so well."