Neither Roy Keane nor Kieran McGeeney settled for second on the pitch in their playing days, or second-best after they’d retired. Both had a steely determination to be first at all times, Keane when playing for club and country, McGeeney at centre-half for Armagh.
Recall the gripe Keane had leading to his walk-away from the Ireland set-up in Saipan; the training facilities weren’t adequate. McGeeney’s tenure as Kildare manager was marked by his professional approach to the team’s preparation. Nothing but the best.
Both have taken on new roles, and you can take it they’ll have no change it attitude. But it’s the nature of their jobs that’s surprising. Neither of them is a No 1. Keane is to be assistant to Giovanni Trapattoni’s successor as Republic of Ireland boss, Martin O’Neill, while it’s been a few weeks since McGeeney was named as part of Paul Grimley’s Armagh set-up.
O’Neill and Keane, coming together for the first time since both were involved with Celtic as manager and player, should be able to form a solid partnership. Team-building will no doubt be their priority.
McGeeney is part of a very solid-looking team. In addition to Grimley, there’s a duo, Peter McDonnell and Martin McQuillan, familiar to this county, and, interestingly enough, the first major match facing their Armagh side will be against Louth.