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O'Dowd gets Royal crown

MICK O'DOWD last night became the fifth man to manage Meath in the seven years since Seán Boylan's departure but the Royal kingmakers are hopeful they have secured the formula to regain stability and in turn, national success.

"We've been in transition now for quite a while and we've been chopping and changing managers," county board secretary, Cyril Creavin told the Herald after last night's unanimous appointment of O'Dowd and his selectors on a three year term.

"And I think the general feeling there is that we should just leave the new man to get on with it and get some continuity going. There wasn't a single dissenting voice in the room and that is probably a reflection of Mick's pedigree and the strength of the backroom team he has assembled."

Both Trevor Giles and the highly-regarded Seán Kelly were appointed as selectors while Colm Brady is still on course to be the team's new physical trainer.

Creavin insisted that O'Dowd's goals would be set by the new manager himself but that there was confidence in Meath that they had appointed the right man.

"Both Seán Kelly and Trevor Giles would be considered household names but Mick has great pedigree himself, both at club level in management and with Meath as a player."

Meath also have a new U21 football manager (and new sponsors: Tayto Park), with Sean Barry replacing Liam Harnan in the role. Andy McEntee will continue in his position as minor manager, having guided the Royals to the All-Ireland minor football final this season.

Yet if O'Dowd's ratification was predictable, there was much greater surprise in Louth where Armagh All-Ireland winner, Aidan O'Rourke was chosen to succeed Peter Fitzpatrick.

The Dromintee man previously served a stint between 2010 and 2011 as selector under Kieran McGeeney at Kildare and was one of the candidates for the Monaghan manager's job before Malachy O'Rourke was given the nod last month.

Fergal Reel - manager of Wee county Champions St Patrick's - and Under 21 boss, Colin Kelly were thought to be the frontrunners for the job but O'Rourke was last night appointed on a two-year term with an option of a third.

Belfast native Frank Dawson, meanwhile, was last night confirmed as Antrim's new football manager. Dawson previously managed Burren and Clonduff to Down county titles and also managed their senior hurlers for a stint.