Friday 23 March 2018

O'Rourke keeps cool over rivalry with Down

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

ARMAGH manager Paddy O'Rourke has immediately dampened the rivalry that will be inevitably raised when his side meet Down in the NFL Division 2 final on Sunday week.

O'Rourke captained Down to 1991 All-Ireland glory and managed them for several years earlier this decade.

The Mournes are now managed by his former Down team-mate James McCartan and O'Rourke has already lost out to them, by seven points, when the sides met in their earlier league meeting in Newry last month.

But both he and Steven McDonnell have rushed to play down the rivalry ahead of their all-Ulster league final.

"There's nothing difficult about it for me," said O'Rourke. "It's a great game for both of us, I'm looking forward to it and I know that James (McCartan) will also be looking forward to it. It's super preparation for the championship.

"It's three weeks before we play in the championship and probably four or five weeks before Down play, so it's as good as 20 training sessions for both of us and we'll really look forward to it."


Under Peter McDonnell, Armagh lost ground in the years immediately after Joe Kernan's reign and were expected to be in transition for longer.

Yet, in just his first season in charge O'Rourke has succeeded in getting them promoted back to Division 1 for the first time since they won it in 2005.

"I don't think it's anything about me, I just think the players are there and we've got them organised and going in the right direction," O'Rourke said.

"Armagh are very, very lucky, they've got a very good panel of players, there's players outside of it very keen to get into it and there is this burning desire to play for their county. I've just come into a county with very good players."

McDonnell, who has scored half of their 6-94 during this year's league campaign, also stressed that Armagh won't be using their rematch with Down as some sort of grudge match for their earlier league defeat. "The most important thing for us is that we're back in Division 1 football," he said.

"Everything after that is a bonus, especially the chance to play in Croke Park pre-championship but our whole focus from now on will be Celtic Park on May 16," McDonnell stressed.

Irish Independent

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