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Last managerial role for Joe Kernan

November 6, 2017

Joe Kernan has announced that leading his Ireland International Rules team down under against Australia will bring the curtain down on the career of one of the GAA’S most successful managers.

Joe will be hoping that his Ireland squad will be able to retain the Cormac McAnallan Cup to bring to a conclusion a near 30 year management span that brought him multiple success at Club, County, Country and Provincial level.

Before embarking on the management trail Joe enjoyed a most fruitful playing career which saw him win 5 Armagh Senior championships with his club Crossmaglen Rangers between 1971 and 1988. Joe joined the Armagh Senior squad in 1971 and waited 6 years for the first of 3 Ulster Medals (1977, 1980,1982) from 6 final appearances in an inter- county innings that ended in 1987 which also gave him 2 Division Two National League medals. Joe’s prowess as a footballer was recognized by his peers as he won All-Star awards in 1977 and 1982 and was on 3 Ulster Railway Cup winning teams.

In 1989 Joe got his first blooding into inter-county management as assistant to his former playing colleague Paddy Moriarty which lasted for 3 years. With his home club struggling in terms of Senior success Joe took the management reins in 1993. Rangers traditional catch and kick style was not working along with some of the ageing stars so Joe took a huge gamble in 1995 putting his faith in the youth following a hat-trick of U-21 triumphs. A new era for this historic club was launched. A year later the first Senior title in 11 years was won, and for good measure a fourth in a row U-21 crown. Not satisfied with county glory ambitious Joe set the bar at its highest, going on to deliver an early Christmas present with a Dec 8 replay win over Bellaghy (Derry) for a first Ulster title. On St Patrick’s Day 1997 the pinnacle of club football was reached as the All-Ireland title made its way to Cross following a 2-13 to 0-11 win over Knockmore (Mayo). When Joe decided to pull the plug on Cross in 2000 amazingly he had delivered 3 All-Ireland, 3 Ulster and 4 in-a-row Armagh titles but more importantly he had left a blueprint for continued glory which went on to exceed everyone’s wildest dreams.

Given his success with Cross Joe was the unanimous choice of all the Orchard faithful to take the reins as County manager and it duly happened in November 2001. Nobody could have imagined that inside 10 months of his appointment “Big Joe”, as he became affectionately known brought the Holy Grail, the Sam Maguire to Armagh for the first and still only time. Joe copper fastened his niche as the county’s greatest ever manager, narrowly falling at the final hurdle in the retention of their title but when he called time on his Armagh managerial role in 2007 a first Division One League 2005 title along with a three-in a -row of Ulster titles adorned the trophy cabinet. In his 5 years as Armagh manager Joe only suffered 7 defeats in three dozen championship outings.

Not content with being his county’s best ever manager Joe answered his Ulster and Ireland call in the same manner, bringing success to both.

Hopefully when his retirement from football management comes into effect following the 2 matches in Australia, the first Test will be played in Adelaide on 12 November, with the second Test in Perth on 18 November, Joe will be bringing back the cup to finish off a sporting career that has few equals.

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