Rian O’Neill of Armagh runs on to the field in front of his brother Oisin O'Neill before the 2019 Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay match between Cavan and Armagh at St Tiarnach's Park in Clones, Monaghan.
Rian O’Neill of Armagh runs on to the field in front of his brother Oisin O'Neill before the 2019 Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay match between Cavan and Armagh at St Tiarnach's Park in Clones, Monaghan. 

McConville hopes for positive Kieran Donaghy impact with Armagh


By John Harrington

Oisin McConville believes Kieran Donaghy can be a very positive influence on his nephews, Armagh county footballers Rian and Oisin O’Neill.

The O’Neill brothers are two of the most promising young footballers in the country, and McConville thinks they’ll learn a lot from working with former Kerry star Donaghy who has joined Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney’s backroom team.

“I think the boys had seen him once or possibly twice before things went into lockdown,” says McConville.

“I think the initial reaction was very, very positive. I think it's something different. You're taking a whole new perspective.

“A lot of the time it's been Ulster coaches going to Leinster, Connacht, Munster. Whereas this time around, that's been flipped on its head.

“So I think it's a positive thing, and I think there's a lot of know-how there, and there's certain players in particular who Kieran Donaghy can help bring on their game in a massive way.

“I was thinking my nephews, Rian and Oisin in particular. The fact that they play in that sector of the field. But also I'm thinking the likes of Steffan Campbell who over the last number of years has probably played in all six positions in the forward-line.

“Maybe he can help him figure out what are his best positions to pick up, because I think he has a big role to play in this Armagh team this year. Then the likes of Ross McQuillan coming back from Australian Rules. So lads like that. They're the ones that spring to mind instantly.”

Former Kerry footballer Kieran Donaghy is involved in the Armagh backroom team.
Former Kerry footballer Kieran Donaghy is involved in the Armagh backroom team.

Former Armagh star, McConville, believes the 2021 season is a massive one for the Orchard County as they eye up a Division 1 campaign and a relatively kind draw in the Ulster Championship.

“I think it would be great if Armagh could stay in Division 1,” he says. "It's a mini-Ulster Championship, they play Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan.

“Realistically, I think at this stage, not having seen any football or how these teams are motoring, I think there's a distinct possibility that both Monaghan games, if they happen, are massive games for Armagh.

“First of all I think whoever wins that game between Armagh and Monaghan will stay in Division 1. And then if Armagh can get over Antrim and Monaghan get over Fermanagh, there's an unbelievable opportunity for those teams to get into an Ulster final.

“Like we saw last year with Cavan, you just don't know what can happen in an Ulster final. It's a massive year for Armagh. To be honest, a run in the Ulster Championship is probably imperative for them at this stage.

“When they look back at last year, and how poor they were against Donegal, how they capitulated very, very early in that game, I think they will be a wounded animal going into this year, and it's something they will be mentioning quite a bit.

“It's a massive year for Armagh in that regard, and to try get some stability in Division 1 and maybe a run in the Ulster Championship.”