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Freeman departs Louth hotseat as a list of potential successors emerge

The Kildare man oversaw promotion from Division 4 last season

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Wayne Freeman's decision to depart was expected in the aftermath of the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Roscommon and a season in which there were behind-the-scenes clashes with members of the management committee.

Wayne Freeman's decision to depart was expected in the aftermath of the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Roscommon and a season in which there were behind-the-scenes clashes with members of the management committee.

Wayne Freeman's decision to depart was expected in the aftermath of the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Roscommon and a season in which there were behind-the-scenes clashes with members of the management committee.

Colin Kelly and Martin Duffy are prominent names in the frame to succeed Wayne Freeman as Louth manager after the Kildare native notified the County Board of his decision to stand down on Thursday night.

The Monasterevin man's decision to depart was expected in the aftermath of the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Roscommon and a season in which there were behind-the-scenes clashes with members of the management committee.

Nonetheless, Freeman, who was strongly courted by Kildare at the beginning of the year, notably led the Reds to the Division 4 title in 2021 and reached the knockout stages of the intermediate championship in two of his three campaigns at the helm.

"It was a difficult decision as the players and management have been a joy to work with," he said in a statement.

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"I have been in the role for three years and thoroughly enjoyed my time in Louth. Managing Louth Ladies has been a great privilege and honour, and I have been able to be a part of a wonderful journey leaving with fantastic memories.

"The goals upon arrival were too [sic] gain promotion to division 3 and be competitive across all competitions. I hope my time in Louth will be seen as a successful period for the county and that we have left the team with a strong base where it can continue to grow and develop further."

County chairman Liam O'Neill, who is expected to lead the hunt for a successor, complimented the outgoing team boss and wished him well for the future.

"Despite a shaky start this year we stabilised and remained in Div 3 reached the Qtr Finals losing out to Roscommon last weekend," O'Neill wrote in a public address.

"Wayne and his backroom team put tremendous effort into their roles with the team, and there was some amount of travelling involved at least three times a week all the way from Co Kildare.

"We the Co Board and the players really appreciated the effort that they all put in, and they were just like an extended family such was the way they went about their roles, which was very business like, but at the same time courteous and friendly. I know from being around the group he has made friends for life.

"I on behalf of the Co Board wish to thank Wayne and his backroom team well going forward, and there will always be a big Louth welcome for them all in and around the county on any occasion they may visit.

"I have no doubt that we haven’t heard the last of Wayne in LGFA/GAA circles, because of what he brings to a team in many respects (ie) Motivation/Personality/Experience & Discipline."

REPLACEMENTS

In terms of possible replacements, Kelly – who last week agreed to train St Joseph's men's senior team until the end of the season – was viewed as a natural fit for the role had there been a parting of ways with Freeman following a turbulent Leinster Championship campaign.

As a former Louth, Westmeath and Wicklow manager, in addition to holding a number of club posts, Kelly has vast experience and was a selector with this season's Wee minors, for whom his daughter played. Chairman O'Neill, in particular, is a known admirer.

Meanwhile, Martin Duffy, the ex-Ardee St Mary's player who oversaw Louth's All-Ireland U16 success of 2019, has long been earmarked as a potential senior team manager. He has known designs on the post and would bring an in-depth knowledge to the role having subsequently trained an U18 panel which included current seniors Seona Halligan, Abi Keenan, Caitlin O'Reilly and Rebecca Lambe Fagan, among others.

Darren Bishop, the Cremartin clubman in charge when the Reds delivered All-Ireland junior glory three years ago, is another name to have been mentioned. Having originally been brought in as a coach under the late Micheál McKeown, the Monaghan native assumed the reins and reached the Croke Park decider in both of his years in charge, before making way for Freeman.

Na Piarsaigh Blackrock's John Garvey was very close to landing the top job in Longford a few years back, having enjoyed domestic success with Stabannon Parnells, and has since got involved with Louth GAA's development squads as well as leading his own club. It remains to be seen if he will show an interest in the position.

Meanwhile, Jack MacNamee, a selector under Freeman, may feel it's his time to take the lead role. He has previously taken Joe's to respective minor and U20 showpieces in the men's code.


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