Kieran Donaghy’s first introduction to Armagh was a daunting one, facing the steely blockade of Francie Bellew.
‘Star’ eventually got the better of the battle in the 2006 All-Ireland quarter final. His second half goal helped inspire Kerry to victory.
Speaking on ‘The Football Pod with Paddy and Andy’, the current Armagh coach recalled the clash.
“People forget how good that Armagh team really were. They came up against the best Tyrone team of all time. And they were coming up against a pretty good Kerry team as well that day”.
“They were just so close to probably having three of four All-Irelands. When we were going at them that day, it was a massive game for us because at half time we weren’t in a great spot. I wasn’t in a great spot”.
Donaghy pointed to his input before the break, along with the Kerry managers belief in him as a turning point.
Elbows and another few elbows
“I won two balls before half time, and I won another free out on the sideline when Darragh O’Se punted a ball into me against McGeeney and Francie Bellew. I won it over on the Hogan Stand and I went down the sideline, swinging elbows and trying to bounce it and soloing, another few elbows, and somehow I got a free out of it.
The Gooch tapped over the free and going in at half time, Jack (O’Connor) builds me up then. ‘We’re going fine, kept putting it into him we’re getting on top now.’
The four-time All-Ireland winner locked horns with Geezer that day, but now the two accompany each other on the sideline.
Donaghy has learned a lot during his time in the Orchard County management team and is looking forward to his second year.
Coaching in the Orchard County
“It’s been a huge eye-opener for me. Obviously, Kieran (McGeeney) is quality and McKeever’s (Ciaran) a top-level coach as well so it’s a great learning curve for me.
Perfect for what I wanted on my road to management, was to get a really good team and a team that could be competitive and a team that could win things. And a team that had an exciting bunch of players and a dedicated bunch of players”.
“The culture that Kieran has created there over the past eight years has been unreal. And to come in and see it first-hand was really good.
I felt we were very unlucky last year against Monaghan in that Ulster semi-final. There’s lessons to be learnt from it. But the group is continually trying to get better every year and that’s what we’ll be at this year.
I couldn’t get a better apprenticeship that working under Kieran McGeeney and Denis Hollywood, who’s brilliant as well. Obviously, me and McKeever came in at the same time so we’re both young guys the same age trying to learn the ropes”.