Kieran Donaghy reveals what it's like to work with "very direct" Kieran McGeeney at Armagh
"He's very honest and that's what I want, as a guy who's trying to learn from him"
Kerry legend Kieran Donaghy was the scourge of Ulster teams for years, constantly posing a threat with his determination, powerful physique, eye for goal and unorthodox basketball skills, which he transferred from the court to Croke Park.
It was for this reason that many were surprised to find that he took a coaching role at Armagh; a team which he locked horns with on several occasions, going toe-to-toe in his playing days with their current manager, Kieran McGeeney.
The two become more acquainted in less fierce surroundings when representing Ireland at the International Rules games against Australia, and now in the forever changing world of the GAA, Donaghy is McGeeney's assistant as they both aim to navigate Armagh to glory in this year's All-Ireland Championship.
The former Armagh captain certainly has a reputation as a demanding, but excellent manager that players want to perform for. This is the first year they have been in Division One since 2012, but that is not the extent of his ambitions, which is why he brought in the Kerryman.
"He's very direct," admitted Donaghy. "He's very thoughtful about what he does. The prep that goes in away from the group is at a very high level. He's challenging me and Ciaran McKeever and Denis Hollywood as a backroom team. He's challenging Ciaran McKinney as a goalkeeping coach.
"He's been very open to our ideas and stuff that we're looking at. I ask him for feedback all the time and he's very honest and that's what I want, as a guy who's trying to learn from him and learn the ropes of what a coach and selector can bring to a group. So, yeah, he's been brilliant to deal with."
Previous duels in Croke Park and a couple of trips together weren't enough for Donaghy to agree to working with McGeeney straight away; he decided to do his homework before taking his first job in coaching.
"I talked to Johnny Doyle in Kildare before I took the job. Johnny told me how highly they spoke of and thought of him [McGeeney] in Kildare in the six years he was there, and how upset they were when he was leaving kind of proves what he is to the group.
"This is his sixth year here now in Armagh so I think if a manager has that type of longevity then his players know that he'll do anything for them. He's been really, really good to work with so far."
Donaghy was often referred to as "the tenner that Kerry kept finding in their back pocket", because of all the times people thought he was down and out, only for him to come on and turn a game upside down.
McGeeney will certainly be hoping for a good exchange rate, as he brings the former forward to Armagh with aspirations of taking the Orchard county to the next level.