Thursday 14 December 2017

Colm Keys: Only six new inter-county gaelic football managers in 2017

Meath’s Andy McEntee is one of six new county football managers. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Meath’s Andy McEntee is one of six new county football managers. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Maurice Fitzgerald imparting his wisdom in his native Kerry, his former All-Ireland-winning colleague Declan O'Keeffe pitching in with Roscommon, John O'Mahony back playing an advisory role in Leitrim, where he made such a mark more than 20 years ago, and Gerry McEntee joining his brother Andy and three other All-Ireland winners in Meath.

These are just some of the major sideline changes that have taken place in inter-county football backroom teams since the 2016 season wrapped up.

Mickey Harte remains the longest-serving manager as he looks ahead to a 15th season in charge but with Terry Hyland's departure Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Jim Gavin are next on the longevity scale as they enter a fifth season with Kerry and Dublin respectively.

But sideline change is more limited than usual with more content to hold on to what they have.

In all, there are six new managers: Billy Lee in Limerick, Seamus McEnaney in Wexford, Andy McEntee in Meath, Peter Creedon in Laois, Mattie McGleenan in Cavan and Benny Guckian in Leitrim.



No change for Galway with manager Kevin Walsh again being assisted by Sean Conlon and Brian Silke with New Zealander Greg Muller overseeing strength and conditioning.


Stephen Rochford will again have Tony McEntee and Donie Buckley as part of his management but Sean Carey has stepped away as a selector and will be replaced by Peter Burke, the former goalkeeper and now goalkeeping coach. Former Limerick manager Maurice Horan will continue in an analysis role.


A split between Kevin McStay and Fergie O'Donnell, joint-managers in 2016, has left McStay as manager for the next two years after his appointment in a solo capacity. Liam MacHale will support with former St Brigid's manager and outgoing selector Ger Dowd also linking up. David Casey and Stephen Bohan stepped down as selectors at the same time as O'Donnell but former Kerry goalkeeper Declan O'Keeffe has joined the coaching team while former Ireland youth international soccer player David Joyce will work as a performance coach.


John O'Mahony is returning to Leitrim, where he won that landmark Connacht title in 1994, in an advisory capacity to Brendan Guckian who has taken over from Shane Ward as manager. Guckian will have '94 All-Star Seamus Quinn as selector with former Mayo player Michael Moyles overseeing physical training. Former Leitrim and Aughawillan goalkeeper Thomas Quinn will train the Dublin-based players.


Ronan Sweeney's departure has paved the way for former full-back Noel McGuire to step in to join manager Niall Carew and selector Keith Carty.



Turlough O'Brien prepares for a third year with selectors Benji O'Brien and Tommy Wogan. Damien Sheehan is team trainer, while new coach Stevie Poacher comes with a solid reputation from the Down development squad, schools and club scene.


No indication of change in Dublin so far, with Declan Darcy, Mick Deegan, Shane O'Hanlon and Jason Sherlock the management team assisting Jim Gavin. Bryan Cullen took over as Dublin GAA's high performance manager earlier this year and will continue to oversee the fitness and strength work of the squad.


Complete backroom change for Cian O'Neill after his first season in charge of the Lilywhites. His three selectors, Brian Murphy, Brian Flanagan and Pádraig Brennan, have stepped down. Another former player Ronan Sweeney, who was with Niall Carew for two years each in Waterford and Sligo, will be involved, along with former goalkeeper Enda Murphy.


Peter Creedon, previously Tipperary manager, takes over for two years and will have former Tipperary selector Michael O'Loughlin with him in addition to Tommy Toomey, the 2015 Tipperary U-21 manager and Donegal native Michael McGeehin, who was coach to Limerick during Maurice Horan's management.


Denis Connerton keeps the same team as last year with Ciarán Fox assistant manager and Enda Macken and Derek Ryan working as selectors. Trevor Smullen is again head of strength and conditioning.


Manager Colin Kelly has made changes to his backroom team, with Ollie McDonnell stepping away to be replaced by former player Aaron Hoey and Colm Nally, fresh from Leinster intermediate football success with St Colmcille's, taking over the main coaching duties from former Derry manager Paddy Crozier.


Andy McEntee takes over for a three-year term from Mick O'Dowd and has brother Gerry involved as a selector. Three more former All-Ireland winners are involved as selectors, Finian Murtagh, Donal Curtis and Cormac Sullivan who will double as goalkeeping coach. John Coughlan, who was with Andy McEntee in Ballyboden St Enda's when they won the All-Ireland club title last year before moving to the Far East for a spell, will be the team's strength and conditioning coach.


Manager Pat Flanagan will continue to have James Stewart and Declan Farrell as selectors but has beefed up their coaching capacity with the addition of former Rhode manager Pat Daly and Niall Gaynor.


Despite reaching two Leinster finals, Tom Cribbin has changed his backroom team, with Mark Kavanagh, Pearse Coroon and physical trainer John Doran stepping away. They are replaced by Kevin Downes, Terry Hyland (in Cavan as coach for the last two years) and former Offaly manager Emmet McDonnell, while Keith Carr takes over from Doran as the man responsible for fitness.


Seamus McEnaney returns to inter-county management on a two-year term and will bring Martin McElkennon, who he had with him in Monaghan and Meath, as coach. Former Wexford captain David Murphy is also on board.


Johnny Magee's Kilmacud Crokes and Dublin colleagues Ray Cosgrove and his brother Darren Magee have stepped down as selectors though Darren will retain a match-day presence. Former Wicklow player Paddy Dalton and Mark Fee from Ballyboden St Enda's, who has had an involvement with Dublin minors and UCD Freshers, replace them.



Galway's 2013 All-Ireland-winning U-21 manager Alan Flynn takes over as coach from Mick Bohan who steps away after just one season (to return to the Dublin ladies), while manager Colm Collins, now going into his fourth year, will be joined again this year by selectors David O'Brien, Declan Downes and Eoin Shanahan.


Manager Peadar Healy has shaken up his backroom team. Paudie Kissane is gone from the S&C role (he's now with Limerick). He is replaced by the highly-regarded Robbie Williams. Physiotherapist Brian O'Connell has been joined by Thomas Dekkers, who also comes with an impressive CV.


Billy Lee, a selector to Liam Kearns when he was Limerick manager, has been appointed for two years. He will be joined as coach by Paudie Kissane who leaves a similar position after just one year with Cork. Former Limerick player Brian Begley and Ricky Roynane are selectors while another Limerick footballer from the past, Barry Fitzpatrick, will oversee strength and conditioning.


Maurice Fitzgerald joining a backroom team that already has Mikey Sheehy adds to an already stellar cast with former All-Ireland-winning captain Liam Hassett and physical trainer Padraig Corcoran again involved as selectors. Diarmuid Murphy has stepped down after six years of involvement.


Liam Kearns has brought in Kerryman Jerome Stack, previously with Laois and Limerick as a coach, with Paul Fitzgerald and Shane Stapleton still selectors. Analysis will continue to be provided by former Tipperary and Kildare defender Brian Lacey and Michael Byrnes.


Gerry Fitzpatrick, who has had spells with the Waterford and Wexford hurlers, comes on board in a strength and conditioning role along with Peter Kirwan who has also been with the Wexford hurlers. Laurence Hurney and Tony Corcoran stay on as selectors to Tom Glinchey, now in his third year.



Gearóid Adams and Frank Fitzsimons remain as joint-managers for a second successive year with Brian Magee, a former world boxing champion, again looking after physical training.


Kieran McGeeney has lost Aidan O'Rourke as an assistant in recent weeks. O'Rourke had been involved with his old colleague for just one season, having been with Kildare (when McGeeney was manager), Down and Louth (as manager himself) in the previous five years.


Mattie McGleenan takes over from Terry Hyland as manager and will have fellow Tyrone man Lorcan Martin and Finbar O'Reilly as selectors. Eoin Maguire, part of the Hyland team, remains as strength and conditioning coach while Dundalk soccer goalkeeper Gary Rogers is retained as goalkeeping coach.


No change for Damien Barton with Brian McGuckin supporting as coach and Derry legend Tony Scullion, Michael Conlan (as goalkeeping coach) and Hugh McGrath preparing for a second year.


Eamonn Burns can again fall back on former team-mate Neil Collins as a selector while Gerard Colgan, another former player, and Aidan Brannigan are also involved with Ciarán Sloan looking after strength and conditioning. Added to that team for 2017 is Cathal Murray and Rory Friel, a coach with a background in athletics.


Rory Gallagher extended his term for a further three years with the option of serving a fourth and has a new coach in former Tyrone All-Ireland U-21 winner Richard Thornton, who comes highly regarded. He replaces former Westmeath footballer Jack Cooney after two years with Gallagher. Brendan Kilcoyne continues as a selector.


Same again for Peter McGrath with Raymond Johnston as his assistant and Simon Bradley and Brian Treacy as selectors.


Malachy O'Rourke is to remain on until 2019. Ryan Porter and Leo McBride, who have been with him since 2013, remain but Finbar Fitzpatrick has departed. He will be replaced by former captain Owen Lennon while Colin McAree, previously involved in a coaching and analysis capacity with Scotstown and Louth, will also be involved.


Mickey Harte retains Gavin Devlin as assistant with Peter Donnelly continuing to direct strength and conditioning.

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