Just like in previous years it’s managerial merry go round in the GAA with several counties changing managers. My own county, Longford, are one the look-out for a successor to Denis Connerton. I have my preference but will it be the same as the County Board’s?
As a journalist that loves covering their county I want a manager that can bring my county on and for us to have some glory days. I also want that person to be amiable and someone I can have a good working relationship with.
When you work for local press from January to July (in my case) you have the county manager’s number on speed dial. You ring them for preview of games, reactions to draws/matches, team news etc. I’ve been so lucky that over the last number of years I’ve had a great relationship with Longford’s managers. They built a trust with me and that’s so important. It’s great when there is mutual respect.
Sometimes managers are wary of the media and distrust them, others are media friendly and then there’s the ones that do not want to deal with the media. It is hard for a manager to come out and talk after a game especially in something controversial happened or it was a heavy defeat but it is part of their job. The same with journalists. Though sometimes journalists can step on toes. There’s getting a story and then there’s making headlines.
There is no denying how tough it is being an inter-county manager, no matter what county you are with. Each county has its own level of expectation.
When Denis Connerton decided to step down as Longford manager last month he released a statement. As well as thanking his management team, players, county board, sponsors, he also thanked the supporters. He said: “To our dedicated supporters who have had to travel near but mostly far to support our team I say a huge thank you.”
Longford supporters although starved of success are realistic. We may not have won a trophy under Denis but we had the highs of beating a strong Dublin team in the O’Byrne Cup in 2016. That year we also defeated Monaghan in Clones in the qualifiers. This year we reached our first Leinster semi-final in 30 years and were unlucky not to be promoted. Yes we also suffered tough defeats but days like Clones make you proud of your county and the players.
You look at Kerry. We would give anything to have the success the Kingdom had under Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Yes they probably underachieved but that’s football. I couldn’t believe the level of abuse Fitzmaurice and his players received from sections of their supporters. Other inter-county managers came out and revealed similar things happening to them or their players.
That sort of behaviour will deter managers from taking over some counties. At the end of the day they are ordinary people trying to do a job. Just like the rest of us.
Btw I survived my first training session with the Gaelic4Mothers & Others. We had a great turn-out and more want to join. I’m amazed at the interest. Our trainer Jimmy told us Wednesday night was just a light session. I might not be able to tell the tale after next week’s session or the week after. Wish me luck.