Monday 19 March 2018

Fay agrees to Royals selector role in Cooney's push for manager post

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

former Meath All Star full-back Darren Fay could be involved in the county's next senior management set-up.

Fay has agreed to come on board as a selector with Gerry Cooney, whose candidacy has been gathering momentum over the past week in opposition to the prospect of outside management.

The union of former Monaghan boss Seamus McEnaney and Liam Harnan, manager of county champions Skryne, on one ticket appeared to give the pair a very strong hand last week, particularly when Paddy Carr withdrew from the process just two days after guiding Kilmacud Crokes to a second Dublin title in three years.

But Meath have never had outside management before and that prospect has hardened the conviction among some officials that they should stay within the county.

Fay, one of the top modern-day full-backs, will join Andy McEntee, younger brother of Gerry, and former county player from the 1980s Finian Murtagh as selectors if Cooney gets the green light at the Meath County Board meeting which will be held this day week.

McEntee, Murtagh and Fay were all managers of club senior teams in Meath this year, McEntee with Donaghmore-Ashbourne, Murtagh with his own Navan O'Mahony's and Fay with his club Trim.

Cooney has also indicated to the Meath County Board and that athletics coach John Coughlan would be involved in the training.

McEnaney's team, which would include Paul Grimley as coach and Martin McElkennon in a strength and conditioning capacity, would be more experienced at this level; they are thought to have the broad support of the existing Meath squad.

But it is now looking increasingly likely that Cooney's team is the one that the county board would be more comfortable with.

Meath are one of six football counties that have never crossed their boundaries for a manager, Kerry, Cork, Dublin, Tyrone and Down being the others. Down, however, have had coaches from outside work with them in the past.

Cooney managed a Meath U-21 team that featured Fay, Mark O'Reilly and Ollie Murphy in the 1997 All-Ireland final, which they lost to Derry, and 12 months later guided Dunboyne to a first Meath SFC title.

He was part of Kevin Kilmurray's management team in Offaly in 2005 and 2006 and has more recently spent much time in Namibia where he purchased a farm.

By occupation he is a counsellor in Dublin's Rutland Centre.

It was not stressed at any county board meeting, since no confidence was expressed in Eamonn O'Brien, that there would be opposition to outside managers. But that is how it is transpiring.

A three-man committee, comprising county board chairman Barney Allen, former All-Ireland-winning captain Joe Cassells and Liam Keane, the GAA's central hearings committee chairman, has interviewed four interested candidates. They are due to make their recommendation in the coming days.

Irish Independent

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