Former Friends

The Grimley connection: Ex-Meath coach could topple the Royals with Armagh today

The Armagh boss knows all the recent fortunes of Meath football.

Paul Grimley speaks with Graham Geraghty Paul Grimley with Graham Geraghty during Meath's 2011 Leinster quarter-final James Crombie James Crombie

IT’S A SAFE bet that in the managerial career of Paul Grimley, few have made quite an impact on him like Kieran McGeeney.

In Kildare, Grimley worked beneath manager McGeeney for two years. Now, in their native Armagh, Grimley is the main man who wears the bainisteoir bib with McGeeney as his deputy.

Even when Grimley was involved with Meath for a single season in 2011, working as Seamus McEnaney’s coach, there was no escaping ‘Geezer’.

That season, Meath started and finished their championship campaign with defeats to a Kildare side managed by McGeeney.

Paul Grimley and Kieran McGeeney Paul Grimley with Kieran McGeeney when Meath and Kildare clashed in 2011. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Grimley initially came into the Meath setup as part of a management dream team headed up by McEnaney and including respected trainer Marty McElkennon.

The previous year, all three were on the side line in Clones when ‘Banty’s’ Monaghan contested the Ulster final.

By appointing them in Meath, local officials broke from tradition and looked to non natives for the first time in a bid to recreate some of the glory of the Sean Boylan years.

McEnaney only lasted two seasons, however, and survived a failed heave at board level to even remain that long.

Grimley lasted just a single season and departed Meath to take up a position back in Armagh which would eventually lead to him being given the manager’s job he craved.

That solitary season in Meath can’t have taught the 2002 All-Ireland winning coach too much. According to former Meath captain Anthony Moyles, the Royals were in flux at the time as they attempted to attune to McEnaney’s new style of play.

Paddy O’Rourke, Meath’s goalkeeper now, played that summer at full-forward, an ill fated experiment according to even the player himself.

Current manager Mick O’Dowd has changed things so much that, of the side which lost to Kildare in the qualifiers that year, only three players remain regulars; Kevin Reilly, Stephen Bray and Graham Reilly.

In all, Meath played 11 league and championship games when Grimley was coach. They lost seven of them – including three to McGeeney’s Kildare – won three and drew one.

Three years on, Grimley can score his biggest win yet in management by beating Meath this evening and taking Armagh back to the championship’s last eight.

Paul Grimley with Kieran McGeeney Grimley and McGeeney are now guiding the fortunes of Armagh GAA. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

As ever, his All-Ireland winning captain of 2002, McGeeney, remains critical to it all. Some may even suspect their hard line media dealings of late is down to the no nonsense McGeeney though former Meath hero Moyles gave a revealing insight this week into Grimley’s own character.

Moyles stated that Grimley, ‘loves a bit of siege mentality. He would definitely love that’.

Grimley would love to beat Meath too, regardless of the work he once did on their behalf.

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