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Martin Breheny: Where does your county manager stand on the pressure scale?

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Only an All-Ireland win will be enough for Jim Gavin and Dublin

Only an All-Ireland win will be enough for Jim Gavin and Dublin

SPORTSFILE

Brain Cuthbert has to find an answer to the Cork football puzzle

Brain Cuthbert has to find an answer to the Cork football puzzle

SPORTSFILE

Wicklow manager Johnny Magee

Wicklow manager Johnny Magee

SPORTSFILE

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher

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Kildare manager Jason Ryan

Kildare manager Jason Ryan

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Only an All-Ireland win will be enough for Jim Gavin and Dublin

A week to go to the start of the Allianz Football League season and all 32 squads are primed.

So too are the managers. They range from Mickey Harte, starting his 13th season in Tyrone, to the 16 newly-appointed managers, (Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes are on a joint-ticket in Mayo), who are taking over in 15 counties.

It's an unusually high turnover but irrespective of where you are on the managerial cycle, the one guarantee is that the job carries a huge workload.

In addition, there's the external pressure that comes from expectations, justified or otherwise. And in an era when many former players and managers stalk pundit-land, some willing to say anything to gain notoriety, working the sideline can be a lonely business.

So where do the managers stand on the pressure scale? Here's a 1-32 ranking list.

1 Jim Gavin (Dublin) 3rd season

Dublin are favourites for the All-Ireland, Leinster and Allianz League titles. That's positive since it's based on the achievements of the past two seasons. It's a negative too in the form of sky-high expectations. The only way to turn last August's Donegal horror story into a closed book is to win the All-Ireland. Anything less will be regarded as failure.

Pressure: 90 (out of 100)

2 Noel Connelly/Pat Holmes (Mayo) 1st season

It's unfair that they are expected to deliver so quickly but it's the way things are. Unlike James Horan, who took over at the end of 2010 after a poor season, the new management arrive at a time when Mayo are so close to being the finished article. The only way to improve on that is to win the All-Ireland.

Pressure: 88

3 Mickey Harte (Tyrone) 13th season

Eaten bread isn't always forgotten. In Harte's case, it's remembered but far from making life easier, the three All-Ireland wins have left supporters impatient for a return to those memorable seasons, even if Harte is dealing from a much weaker hand nowadays. However, he is still expected to take them to the highest peaks. Unfair or otherwise, so it shall remain.

Pressure: 86

4 Rory Gallagher (Donegal) 1st season

He takes over in a county full of expectations after the exploits under Jim McGuinness. Three Ulster titles in four seasons, one All-Ireland title and a runners-up place represents Donegal's greatest-ever period. Any slippage will be seen as the end of an era, not what a manager wants at the end of his first season.

Pressure: 84

5 Brian Cuthbert (Cork) 2nd season

The implosion against Dublin in the League semi-final and the metaphorical no-show against Kerry in the Munster final, left Cork as a puzzle that nobody could quite figure out. So where is the real Cork? Finding the answer will be a major source of pressure for Cuthbert. He still has plenty credits but he can't waste any.

Pressure: 83

6 Jason Ryan (Kildare) 2nd season

Ryan is in his second season as manager, having assisted Kieran McGeeney in 2013, so time might appear to be on his side. It's not that simple. Kildare have dropped into Division 2 and the Leinster draw is tough. Ryan's big test this year hinges on whether he can tighten a defence that had some dismal days in 2014.

Pressure: 82

7 Eamonn Fitzmaurice (Kerry)

3rd season

Provided he wants to continue, he will be managing Kerry in 2016, irrespective of what this season brings, but that doesn't mean it's not without stress. There's a view in Kerry that if they could win the All-Ireland without Colm Cooper, they should definitely be able to retain it when he's back on board. And that's before the addition of Tommy Walsh is considered. Demands are always high on Kerry managers, even when Sam Maguire is enjoying Kingdom hospitality.

Pressure: 80

8 Malachy O'Rourke (Monaghan)

3rd season

They have made huge progress over two seasons, returning to Division 1 and winning an Ulster title. Now, O'Rourke is expected to steer them towards real All-Ireland territory. It's an exciting challenge but it also carries stresses as they try to break the glass ceiling.

Pressure: 79

9 Mick O'Dowd (Meath) 3rd season

Promotion has to be an early Royal target, especially since Westmeath and Kildare, who have dropped down from Division 1 this year, are not as strong as Donegal and Monaghan who were promoted. Ultimately, of course, O'Dowd will be judged on how Meath fare in the championship, specifically whether they can do better than last year.

Pressure: 78

10 Tomás O Flatharta (Laois)

2nd season

It took a win over Down in the final game to save Laois from relegation in Division 2 last April and they were later bundled out of the championship by Tipperary. Laois aren't noted for their patience with managers, often opting to move them on, irrespective of whether it's the right course of action. O Flatharta knows that.

Pressure: 77

11 Terry Hyland (Cavan) 4th season

League progress was made last year when Cavan were promoted to Division 2 but it's the least the county expects after so much U-21 success. Cavan's secure defence was enough to see them through Division 3 but their low strike-rate was a major drawback last year. Liam McHale has been recruited to improve the attacking yield. For Hyland's sake, it needs to work.

Pressure: 76

12 Brian McIver (Derry) 3rd season

Derry may have made too much progress too quickly on their return to Division 1. Reaching the final against Dublin raised hopes that something really big was stirring but the collapse was painful to watch, even for neutrals.Still, in terms of deflating a county, it was nothing compared to the All-Ireland qualifier defeat by Longford in Celtic Park. Longford lost to Tipperary by 17 points in the next game.

Pressure: 74

13 Kieran McGeeney (Armagh) 1st season

Having been appointed for a five-year term, he appears to be the most secure manager in the country, but it's never that simple. Armagh came close to reaching the All-Ireland semi-final last year so expectations are high. Also, his famous predecessor, Joe Kernan steered Armagh to All-Ireland success in his first season; so too did neighbour, Mickey Harte. Slow burns don't always work.

Pressure: 73

14 Kevin Walsh (Galway)

Reaching the last eight for the first time in six years raised Galway's optimism levels last year but it may be misleading as they achieved it by beating Division 3 and 4 teams. Once they stepped in against Mayo and Kerry, they well beaten, losing to both by seven points. Improving the defence is a necessity for Walsh.

Pressure: 72

15 John Evans (Roscommon) 3rd season

Expectations are growing rapidly in Roscommon. Evans is happy with that, since it's always rewarding to be surrounded by real ambition. However, there's a downside too, since it can out-strip reality and, when the right results don't flow, the manager is handed the blame.

Pressure: 71

16 Jim McCorry (Down) 1st season

James McCartan steered Down to the 2010 All-Ireland final in his first season. It also turned out to be his best, underlining yet again that the first campaign can often be the most successful. With four home games in Newry, Down should be pushing hard for promotion from Division 2. It's the launch McCorry needs.

Pressure: 70

17 Jack Sheedy (Longford) 2nd season

The qualifier win over Derry was a massive highpoint last year but there were valley days, not least the subsequent 17-point defeat by Tipperary and relegation to Division 4. A quick return to Division 3 is Longford's first target but with four 'away' games, it's a real challenge. After that, Longford will be away to Offaly in the Leinster championship. It all looks quite tricky.

Pressure: 69

18 Tom Cribbin (Westmeath) 1st season

After a 2014 where Westmeath won no games, the only way is up. Cribbin will do a good job but he needs to be given time to settle and stabilise a county that has been a watchword for volatility in recent years.

Pressure: 68

19 Pete McGrath (Fermanagh) 2nd season

Fermanagh have shown good early season form but will they turn it into a promotion drive in Division 3? And how will they do against last year's Ulster championship conquerors, Antrim, when they meet again in May? McGrath's stock value depends on both.

Pressure: 67

20 John Brudair (Limerick) 2nd season

Limerick, Clare and Tipperary are in Division 3 and since they are always battling for third spot behind Cork and Kerry in Munster, the League struggle for supremacy will be pretty fierce too.

Pressure: 66

21 Peter Creedon (Tipperary) 4th season

A good season in 2014, winning promotion to Division 3, running Cork to two points in the Munster semi-final and reaching Round 4 of the qualifiers. Ensuring there's no slipping back is the biggest challenge on Creedon.

Pressure: 65

22 David Power (Wexford) 1st season

Wexford have lost ground. Power has to be given time to shape the squad his way. Question is: has he got the material?

Pressure: 64

23 Niall Carew (Sligo) 1st season

Sligo have a good draw in the Connacht championship, which is a boost for Carew. He will also be targeting getting in the Division 3 promotion mix.

Pressure: 63

24 Sean Collins (Clare) 2nd season

Collins is only in his second season so he has time on his side, especially after a progressive 2014, where they were promoted to Division 3.

Pressure: 61

25 Pat Flanagan (Offaly) 1st season

This is Offaly's second season in three years in Division 4. Flanagan has lots of experience and now needs the full support of everyone in the county.

Pressure: 60

26 Johnny Magee (Wicklow) 1st season

Mick O'Dwyer apart, some other outside managers have found it difficult in Wicklow. Magee has the advantage of knowing the squad, having worked with Harry Murphy last year.

Pressure: 58

27 Frank Fitzsimons (Antrim) 1st season

Antrim were among the favourites to get out of Division 4 last year but finished third last. They are better than that so it's a good time for a new manager to take over.

Pressure: 57

28 Colin Kelly (Louth) 1st season

He takes over at a time when Louth have lost some influential figures, led by Paddy Keenan, so supporters will need to be patient. Kelly needs to be given space to rebuild.

Pressure: 56

29 Tom McGlinchey (Waterford)

All very exciting for Waterford who bid for the McGrath Cup this evening but it should not lead to overblown expectations. McGlinchey will get the maximum from them but needs time to do it.

Pressure: 54

30 Shane Ward (Leitrim) 1st season

Leitrim is a small county with limited playing resources and has to be judged in that context. Ward did well with the U-21s and deserves his chance with the senior squad.

Pressure: 53

31 Turlough O'Brien (Carlow) 1st season

They conceded an average of 2-19 in 10 competitive games last season. It's pretty obvious where O'Brien's re-shaping priority will rest.

Pressure: 52

32 Paul Coggins (London) 5th season

After the excitement of 2013, last year was disappointing, which was always likely to happen. Coggins has done a very good job in difficult circumstances, running a team in such a massive city as London.

Pressure: 50

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