Sambo savouring new Orchard challenge

National Hurling League Division 3A  semi-final

Roscommon v Armagh

Saturday, Dr Hyde Park, 2pm

By Shaun Casey

The “common bond” shared amongst “hurling people” convinced Terence McNaughton to take over the reins in Armagh.

Although in the job just two weeks, McNaughton’s side are facing the challenge of Roscommon on Saturday with a place in the Division 3A league final up for grabs.

“At the end of the day, I love hurling and that goes without saying. I definitely thought I wasn’t going to do any more apart from with just my own club and I’m involved with my own club minors, and I thought that was enough.

“It wasn’t a three-year plan or a five-year plan when I agreed to do it. I said I’ll finish off this campaign and we’ll sit down and talk then after it, if Armagh want me or if I want them.

“Hurling people are the same all over. I can relate to hurling people and Armagh hurling, they’re as passionate about hurling in Armagh in certain places as they are in the Glens of Antrim. There’s a common bond there before you do anything.”

‘Sambo’ took the Armagh hurlers for a training session in Cushendall at the beginning of the year but pays massive credit to the backroom team he has assembled, who have been a great help so far.

“I was desperate to get a hold of people within Armagh that knew the team and knew the league that we’re in because I would have no experience of both.

“That’s why I went after Mattie (Lennon, former Armagh manager) and Ruairi McGrattan, two good fellas and I’m relying 100 per cent on them at the minute. Without them I’d be stuck, they’re pulling me out of a whole big time and they’re pulling Armagh out of a whole.

“I can’t overemphasize enough how much I am appreciative of Mattie and Ruairi. There’s only so much of an input I can have for picking a team and that at this stage.

“But you learn fast, and you go on and see players and you see things and you try and help them. The only thing I have over anybody in Armagh is age and experience.

“Probably every t-shirt they’ll wear as a hurler, being shite, being a hero, being sent off, victory, I’ve worn every t-shirt you want to wear as far as hurling goes. I can help in that way.”

A place in the league decider against Tyrone is the prize on offer this weekend before the Orchard head into a difficult Nickey Rackard Cup campaign.

Armagh already faced the Rossie’s and lost out to a late goal in round four.

“The last time I hurled in Roscommon I had a long head of hair,” McNaughton continued.

“I’m trying to get foundations in place for going forward and just be the best you can be and if you’re beat by a better team, you’re beat by a better team. Hopefully we’ll not be beat for lack of effort.

“If I can get the best out of what’s there at this moment in time then I’ll be happy with that success and wherever that goes, it goes.”

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