Barry McConville backs McKeever for a county job

By Michael McMullan

ARMAGH selector Ciaran McKeever has what it takes to be a county manager in his own right insists former Cullyhanna teammate Barry McConville.

The experienced player, their 2008 winning vice-captain, also hailed the club’s home grown management team who helped them back to winning ways.

In a Gaelic Life interview this week, McConville looks at his 23-year senior career, the club’s 2008 and 2023 intermediate successes and how they’ve bounced back from relegation.

Manager Stephen Reel stayed on board and heads up a management team made up fully of club men, listing Shane and Ciaran McKeever, Mal Mackin, Sean and Francie Nugent.

“Ciaran (McKeever) was always in with us, he was playing and then he retired so he came in,” McConville said.

“He is a super coach. I will tell you one thing, he is a friend of my own and was a teammate of mine over the years but he is exceptional. He is a very smart man coaching wise. If he was managing a county team himself, he would make a very good job of it.”

Cullyhanna were relegated from senior football at the end of 2022 after a spate of injuries, players on their travels and the unavailability of county trio Aidan Nugent, Ross McQuillan and Jason Duffy.

With a fuller hand this season, they won the club’s fifth intermediate title. Nugent’s late free was then enough to see off Pomeroy and Cullyhanna face into Sunday’s Ulster semi-final with Liatroim,

“Francie Nugent came in,” McConville said of their management. “Shane McKeever came in as a forwards’ coach, he’d be a club legend and that helped.”

Sean Nugent and Mal Mackin from the 2008 winning team are also involved, all former players.

“It is hard to beat having success when everyone is from your own club. Nothing beats winning with your teammates,” McConville added, saying how the success was for the community and the management team.

“They have put in three, four or five years with us and they’d keep telling us we were good enough and finally we got success.”

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