Part of a deadly forward line that helped guide Armagh to their first ever All-Ireland title back in 2002, Diarmaid Marsden was a mainstay on that great Armagh team for many years.
His point just before half time in the All-Ireland final was crucial in setting his side up for the excellent second half performance, and of course, he played his part in the most famous goal in Armagh history.
We caught up with the current Clan na Gael manager as he reflects on his career in the orange and white as well as looking to the future.
When did you make your debut for Armagh and what do you remember from the game?
My debut for Armagh came in the Ulster Championship in 1993 vs Tyrone in Athletic Grounds. Myself and Des Mackin, after we were beaten in Minor Championship, were drafted in following Armagh’s miraculous comeback against Fermanagh. I came off the bench and didn’t figure too much, it was a wet day. I think the late, great Kieran McGurk may have scored a penalty. The game ended in a draw and I got a start for the replay in Omagh. Houly scoring a goal and jumping on the wire set us up for great win. Another draw and replay against the All-Ireland Champions Donegal came next. Unfortunately we got beat in the replay. Great memories and great players, McQuillan, Smyth, McGurk, Houly and the Grimley’s.
When was your last game for Armagh and last game for Clan na Gael?
My last game for Armagh was a qualifier game vs Derry in 2007. Donegal had stolen a win in the Ulster first round in Ballybofey. That was the end for me Geezer and a few others. My last game for Clans Seniors was in the 2008 Championship vs Cross. My knees were wrecked and I had no fight left in me and knew it was time to go. Myself and Barry O’Hagan were playing and managing at the time.
What’s the best memory of your playing career?
Thankfully I have lots of great memories at Club, School, College and County, mainly the guys I played with, and the friendships made and some of the successes we shared. The All-Ireland win in 2002 tops it all though. Everything I had dreamed of and worked towards came true that day.
And what’s the worst?
Like most sportsmen I have lots of low points too. Losing the All-Ireland Minor Final in 1992, and the Senior Club Championship Final in 2006, but the one that hurt personally the most was the All-Ireland Final in 2003 (for numerous reasons).
Who was your toughest opponent?
My brother Dominic and Bumpy O’Hagan out in the back garden, competitive isn’t the word. McGeeney at training was deadly. He always singled me out for the tacking grids and one on ones. It no doubt improved me, but hopefully improved him too! Sean Martin Lockhart from Derry was always a tough opponent; he was fast, aggressive and good on the ball. You had to be fully concentrating to get any change out of him.
Are you still involved in football?
Yes, I’m manager of the Clans Seniors. We are Intermediate and that would be the goal, to get us back to Senior. I’ve a big interest in the underage at club too, a lot of great work is going on and my three kids all play so I enjoy watching them.
What are your thoughts on the current Armagh team?
The Armagh team at the minute are easy on the eye. They play attractive football which is very effective. They have decent defence and great options up front. They all seem to be playing for each other and are very committed which is vital. The few years experience with the management team will have battle hardened them and prepared them for promotion tilt and real go at the Ulster Championship.