The search for a new Armagh Ladies manager is already underway following Ronan Murphy’s departure from the Orchard County.
Murphy led Armagh to a historic three-in-a-row of Ulster titles during his three-year tenure and brought them to within 60 minutes of an All-Ireland final in 2020, losing to eventual winners Dublin.
Armagh chairperson Sinead Reel pointed to those provincial successes as the highlight of Murphy’s tenure when they overcame firstly Monaghan in 2020 and then Donegal in 2021 and 2022.
Armagh and the Tir Chonaill ladies have developed a real rivalry over the last few years and Armagh felt that Donegal dismissed their achievements in 2020 due to the fact
they didn’t participate in the competition.
Reel also admitted that the start of Murphy’s stint was difficult as he was appointed just before Covid hit. “It wasn’t a great year that way, you couldn’t get to know the girls well because you weren’t allowed to train, and it was all done via zoom,” recalled Reel.
“Everybody had to do their own bit and the girls had to work hard and you didn’t know if they were because you’re not meeting them every week.
“The first year probably was a tough assignment in that regard but we did well, and we got that first Ulster title.
“At the end of the day in 2020 Donegal chose not to participate in the Ulster Senior Championship. Maybe they put all their eggs in the one basket, and it didn’t work out for them but that was the road they chose to go.
“You don’t dismiss counties that do participate just because they win and Donegal didn’t help themselves and that was a big driving force for our girls to answer those questions, not just of everybody else but of themselves as well. They dug deep.
“You can be the best manager in the world, but the girls have to go out on the field and put their body on the line and go for it. In fairness, I thought in particular in this year’s championship campaign, our girls really stood up and were counted when it was needed.”
Whoever takes over the reins will inherit a squad that is more than capable of competing for the biggest prize in the game. Armagh have shown in recent times that they are a match for anyone in the country and have been knocking on the door of the All-Ireland series.
The advantage of having their own training base at McKeever Park is another hugely appealing part of the job says Reel, as it’s one less headache for the new manager to worry about.
“It has to be an appealing job because we’re the only county that ran Meath close (this year). We drew with them and probably should have beat them in the group stages. There’s a great nucleus of girls there and there’s more to come in.
“The fact that we have a base with McKeever Park, it brings everybody together and you know where you’re going, and everything is set in stone. The lights are going up hopefully in the next couple weeks so our training base will be McKeever Park from next season onwards so that’s another added bonus for the new management coming in.
“You’re not ringing around looking pitches or anything like that even though Silverbridge was probably our home over the past four or five years at least if not more. We were always guaranteed to get there but now we know for a fact that McKeever Park is the base and that’s a big plus for somebody new coming in to take that role on.
“That’s one less headache for them so at the end of the day there’s a great bunch of girls, we have the training facilities and I do believe that there’s definitely an All-Ireland within that team. I’s just tweaking the finer things that need to be tweaked and pushing it over the line.”
The club championships are just around the corner as they swing into action next weekend so Reel insists that Armagh will look to appoint a new boss sooner rather than later.
“We would like to have somebody in place for that because obviously the new management would want to be going to those games and checking players and maybe new talent within the county. We would like to have something in place at that stage.”