Q. How did you end up in the world of finance?
A. I was always fascinated by the achievements of First Derivatives and the success of Brian Conlon, a guy I admire massively in terms of what he’s done. He went to my school and has been such a role model. He has nearly 2,000 people working for him globally which is phenomenal for a man who started up his company less than 20 years ago. He’s a really inspirational guy; really focused, really down-to-earth. A very proud Newry man. He could have based his business anywhere in the world but he chose Newry and stood by the people he grew up with and with whom he identifies mostly. I think he deserves an enormous amount of credit for what he’s done for the local economy and the reputation of Ireland.
Q. Tell us about the best day of your life so far.
A. My wife’s going to kill me, but it has to be winning the All-Ireland in 2002 (when Armagh beat Kerry 1-12 to 0-14). I can’t begin to describe the feeling of joy and achievement. When I was a little boy, all I ever dreamed about was winning an All-Ireland. All through my upbringing, Armagh never really achieved much so to have played along with a lot of guys who had a similar dream and who were great players was really special.
Q. And what about the worst day of your life? What is the most traumatic thing you’ve been through?
A. Probably losing Mo. The day he died was a very sad day.
I’ve been very lucky; I haven’t had to deal with any real hardship. Dealing with unemployment was tough, too. The day you’re told you’ve no job, that’s not a pleasant experience. Also recognising and understanding that your chances of getting a job in the current climate are slim to none. It was an absolutely tough time, I was down about it, but I’m happy that it happened.
It made me a stronger person. So many people in the construction industry have been through the same experience, and for a lot longer than six months.
Q. What’s your favourite place in the world?
A. Slieve Gullion.
Q. What are your greatest achievements to date?
A. Winning the All-Ireland, finishing my degree, because it was a challenge, and completing an MBA – and marrying Christina.
Q. Do you have a nickname?
A. Myself and all of our family were nicknamed The Orbs, based on the Harp lager ad when a hardened cowboy came in wearing a pair of silly shorts. My dad had a pair of those and he wore them to training when he was managing the football team I played in – Mullaghbawn. After that Benny Tierney the goalkeeper (another All-Ireland winner with Armagh) christened us the Orbs. This is from a man who’s got the best nickname of all time – Whoops – because he was always dropping the ball.
Q. Tell us something that readers might be surprised to learn about you?
A. From the age of 14 my uncle trusted me with his farm so I was brought up milking cows, calving cows (I’ve calved hundreds) and doing the hay.
Q. If the Assembly collapses, what’s next for you?
A. I’d love to go and work with an NFL team in the United States (that is, if my wife would agree to it…). I love American football.