NEW Louth boss Aidan O'Rourke addressed delegates at Louth's annual Convention on Monday night and clubs with county players will surely like what they heard!
'I know player availability is always a burning question,' the Armagh man said towards the end of a 10-minute address. 'As a player I was always very keen to be available to my club, not just for games, but to train also and those of you that have been involved in teams know that if players aren't there it's hard to bond and build team spirit and I wouldn't envisage taking away from any club's ability to do that.
'When we get to the businesss end of league and championship I wouldn't envisage the county training programme interfering - within reason - with clubs.
'I banged heads with a few county managers who requested we don't train with clubs, but I know how important it is for players to be playing games. It's of no benefit to any player to be wrapped up in cotton wool for three quarters of the year and not be developing themselves playing game. So I would be adament that, again I'd say within reason, all of our players will be available to clubs whenever possible.'
The 34 year-old also revealed that he and his management team would be available to offer advice and assistance to county development squads and clubs.
'We have a very professional management team in place with a lot of experience and each of them are committed to the long-term health of Louth football, not just the short-term good of the senior team. We will offer any expertise or help we can outside of the senior squad. Initially that is manifest in the link with the U-21 management, but even beyond that with we are more than happy to make ourselves available to the clubs and development squads.'
While taking on a mangerial role is a new experience for O'Rourke, he insisted the players at his disposal and the facilites at Darver make it an even more exciting porposition.
'This is an exciting opportunity for me. I have coached at senior level in Kildare and Down, with my own club and at Queens University, but to come into a management job is a big step. Padraic mentioned that I'm not that old in management terms, but I'd like to think I have a fair bit of experience under my belt.
'The opportunity is exciting for me in that there is a very committed bunch of players there and in the short time I have had them so far they couldn't be faulted to a man. A lot has been asked of them; I have just come from Darver and before I left one of them said the last five or six weeks has been a shock to the system, that they haven't experienced anything along those lines before. That can only be a good thing, because if you want to move forward you can't continue to do what you've done before.
'The facilities at Darver make the job exciting too, and I don't think it is matched anywhere in the country. That's a tribute to, first of all those that initiated the vision and brought it to fruition, and also to the clubs who have invested heavily in terms of time, and financially. The facility itself is a credit to Louth and the clubs in Louth.
'In terms of the players in Louth, as I mention earlier I have worked and played in a few other counties and the skill and ability in Louth is the match of any of those counties.
'If the application and workrate are there, I have no doubt that the management team we have in place are capable of developing the squad and the team and success, in relative terms, can't be that far away. I'd ask for a little bit of time in terms of development, but we'll get there.
'The year ahead is an important one for Louth GAA. It's important for me personally, but it's really important for the group of players here, that they continue to develop.
'Success in my view, in the short term is to win National League games, but the focus and priority would be the Championship and winning Chamionship matches.'