Tuesday 22 January 2019

Changing of the sideline guard

New Cork manager Ronan McCarthy directing the Rebel footballers. Photo: Sportsfile
New Cork manager Ronan McCarthy directing the Rebel footballers. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The number of new inter-county football managers has doubled from last year with 12 appointments in the off-season leaving a much-changed sideline landscape.

Much of that change has taken place in Leinster where Wexford and Laois were again in the market for new managers just 12 months on, and four other counties also have new men at the helm.

John Sugrue. Photo: Sportsfile
John Sugrue. Photo: Sportsfile

There is much change behind the scenes too with very few backroom teams remaining the same.

The spread of Kerry influence is also significant with five managers from the Kingdom now in charge of teams - Eamonn Fitzmaurice in his native county, Liam Kearns in Tipperary, John Evans in Wicklow, John Sugrue in Laois and Stephen Wallace in Offaly.

The football backroom teams in 2018 are:


New manager Ronan McCarthy has retained Eamonn Ryan who was part of Peadar Healy's backroom team while former Rebel footballer Ciaran O'Sullivan and former Cork U-21 coach Sean Hayes, still with the U-20s, is also on board as a selector.

Declan Bonner. Photo: Sportsfile
Declan Bonner. Photo: Sportsfile


Kerry manager Fitzmaurice has taken in basketball coach James Weldon to help with some coaching duties while Joe O'Connor, formerly part of Davy Fitzgerald's Waterford and Clare hurling set-ups and now with Limerick hurlers and adviser to TV programme 'Ireland's Fittest Family', will oversee strength and conditioning with input from former Kerry footballer Niall O'Mahony. Mike Sheehy, Maurice Fitzgerald, Liam Hassett and Padraig Corcoran remain.


Former Offaly player and underage coach Paschal Kellaghan is now coach to Liam Kearns with Brian Lacey, former Kildare and Tipperary defender, stepping up officially to a selector's role, having previously worked on analysis. Paul Fitzgerald and Shane Stapleton remain as selectors with sports psychologist Niall Stack also still involved.


Billy Lee retains former Cork player Paudie Kissane in a coaching capacity with Brian Begley and Ricky Roynane as selectors and Barry Fitzpatrick as strength and conditioning coach.


Into a fifth year as manager, Colm Collins has retained Alan Flynn as coach but David O'Brien has been replaced as a selector by former player Enda Coughlan. Eiven Shanahan and Declan Downes remain as selectors but there's a change in strength and conditioning coach with Rob Mulcahy replacing Keith Hennessy.

Wexford manager Paul McLoughlin. Photo: Sportsfile
Wexford manager Paul McLoughlin. Photo: Sportsfile


Former Wicklow All-Star Kevin O'Brien is involved in a coaching capacity with Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey, who is in his fourth year and has brought in Emmett Doherty and Pearse Connell as selectors, replacing Laurence Hurney and Tony Corcoran. Gerry Fitzpatrick, previously involved with the Waterford and Wexford hurlers, is again involved in strength and conditioning with Peter Kirwan.


Former Tyrone, Down and Derry coach Paddy Tally has joined Kevin Walsh's backroom team in Galway, where Sean Conlon and Brian Silke are still selectors. Keith Carr, who was with Roscommon and Westmeath, has taken over strength and conditioning duties from Greg Muller.


Donie Buckley and Tony McEntee are back as selectors and coaches with Stephen Rochford in Mayo where Joe Keane, who had been involved in a coaching role in 2017, has been officially added to the pool of selectors. Former goalkeeper Peter Burke remains a selector while Barry Solan, despite his busy schedule, continues to oversee strength and conditioning.


Kevin McStay goes with the same team with Liam McHale as coach and Ger Dowd as selector. Former Kerry goalkeeper Declan O'Keeffe and former Ireland youth international soccer player David Joyce are also still involved, with Joyce acting as performance coach.

Sligo manager Cathal Corey. Photo: Sportsfile
Sligo manager Cathal Corey. Photo: Sportsfile


Manager Brendan Guckian still has 1994 Connacht championship-winning manager John O'Mahony, Seamus Quinn and team trainer Michael Moyles on his backroom team.


Jim McGuinness's former Glenties sidekick Cathal Corey take the reins from Niall Carew, with Derry legend Tony Scullion, who had been with Damian Barton in his native county for the last two years, and another former Derry player Conleth Gilligan working as his selectors. Recent Sligo minor manager Aidan Rooney completes the team with Damien Eames as goalkeeping coach.


Kerryman Sugrue is the fourth manager in four years and has fellow county man Jerome Stack as coach. Stack was previously a coach when Tomás Ó Flaharta was in charge of Laois and was with Limerick in 2016. Eoin Kerins and Brendan Delaney are also selectors. An interesting appointment sees Dubliner Robbie Cannon take over as head of strength and conditioning. Cannon won the 2013 Irish Amateur Open in golf and works extensively with golfers.


Colin Kelly has taken over after three years in Louth and has former Laois manager Sean Dempsey and former Westmeath footballer Damien Gavin as his selectors. Joe Quinn, who previously carried out the role when Pat Flanagan was manager, is back as strength and conditioning coach, while Dundalk FC goalkeeper Gary Rogers is goalkeeping coach.


Peter McGrath has switched from Fermanagh where he was for four years and has fellow Down man Declan Mussen, in addition to locals, Wayne Kierans an Aaron Hoey, as selectors.

Derry manager Damian McErlain and Paddy McKeever, Armagh coach after the posponment of the Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup Section B Round 2 match between Armagh and Derry at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Derry manager Damian McErlain and Paddy McKeever, Armagh coach after the posponment of the Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup Section B Round 2 match between Armagh and Derry at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile


Former Kildare footballer and selector in Wexford to Jason Ryan Paul McLoughlin is in his first year as manager and has Mark Roche (Kilmore) and Meath-based Gordon Ward as selectors, with Ward fulfilling the role of strength and conditioning coach. Donal O'Connor (sports injury treatment), Natasha Martin, Mick O'Toole and Christian O'Hara (strength and conditioning assistant coaches), Ian Costigan (video analysis and stats), Paudge Brennan and Tom Murphy (GPS stats) and Wayne Russell (goalkeeping coach) are also involved.


Manager Denis Connerton retains assistant Ciaran Fox and Enda Macken as selectors but Kevin Strich is now coach, replacing Derek Ryan, while Eoin Maguire, previously with Cavan, replaces Trevor Smullen as strength and conditioning coach.


Former Kerry All-Ireland-winning junior manager Wallace has Billy Sheehan, former Laois player and Cork coach, on board in a similar capacity with Ferbane's Paul Mollen a third selector. Former Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy is goalkeeping coach.

Westmeath manager Colin Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Westmeath manager Colin Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile


Evans links up for his third inter-county management job with Stephen Cushe, Brian Heaslip and Leighton Glynn as selectors.


Ronan Sweeney and Enda Murphy remain with Cian O'Neill as selectors for a second successive year.


Andy McEntee begins a second year in charge with brother Gerry, former Meath playing colleagues Finian Murtagh and Gerry Cooney, and former All-Ireland winners Donal Curtis and Cormac Sullivan as selectors. John Coughlan continues to oversee physical preparation.


Mick Deegan and Davy Byrne stepped away last year and there has been some speculation that Jason Sherlock's involvement with Dublin's U-17s could preclude him from senior involvement, but there has been no confirmation of any changes.


It is not surprising that the Carlow backroom team has held together. Stevie Poacher continues to travel from Down as coach with Benji O'Brien and Tommy Wogan joining manager Turlough O'Brien, now in his third full year, as selectors.


Declan Bonner has Paul McGonigle, a selector to Jim McGuinness in 2014, as his assistant with former Footballer of the Year Karl Lacey on board after his retirement, John McElholm, coach to Killyclogher when they won the 2016 Tyrone championship, and Gary Boyle involved in a coaching capacity. Boyle was with Bonner at minor and U-21 level. Anthony McGrath will have a sports science role, while Paul Fisher is helping with strength and conditioning.

Wicklow manager John Evans. Photo: Sportsfile
Wicklow manager John Evans. Photo: Sportsfile


Former Tyrone footballer Ryan McMenamin is Rory Gallagher's assistant in Fermanagh with former Fermanagh footballer Shane McCabe also involved as a selector. Leon Carters retains responsibility for fitness, which he had under Peter McGrath, while Ronan Gallagher is goalkeeping coach.


Killian Conlan, Gavin McGeehan and former Derry goalkeeper Barry Gillis are new Oak Leaf manager Damian McErlain's primary backroom team.


Martin McGovern and Finbar Reilly have departed as selectors, Tyrone native Lorcan Martin remains and is joined by former Cavan ladies manager Aidan McCabe on Mattie McGleenan's backroom team.


No change in Monaghan, Malachy O'Rourke has Leo McBride and Ryan Porter for a sixth successive year with Owen Lennon and Colin McAree.


Jim McCorry has joined Kieran McGeeney's backroom team that has appeared quite fluid over the last two seasons. Denis Hollywood and Paddy McKeever are also involved but at various stages last year John Toal, Justin McNulty and Paul McGrane were all making inputs. McGrane is U-17 manager in 2018, McNulty has taken over Killeavy.


Gearoid Adams has joined Eamonn Burns's backroom team after a spell with Antrim but Neil Collins, Gerard Colgan, Aidan Brannigan and Cathal Murray are still in place, while Ciaran Sloan will continue to be involved in a fitness capacity.

Fermanagh Manager Peter McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile
Fermanagh Manager Peter McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile


Mickey Harte has added former Footballer of the Year Stephen O'Neill as a forwards coach while retaining Gavin Devlin as his assistant and Peter Donnelly as fitness coach.


Manager Lenny Harbinson has Brendan Trainor as assistant and trainer, former Loup club player Fionntan Devlin is head of strength and conditioning, and Peter Bunting is goalkeeping coach.

Irish Independent

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