Ins and outs: The new managers looking to take 2021 by storm

Declan Bogue looks at football's new managerial appointments ahead of the 2021 campaign
Ins and outs: The new managers looking to take 2021 by storm

Former Mourneabbey ladies manager Shane Ronayne is in charge of the Waterford men for 2021


Outgoing: Mickey Harte

Incoming: Joint ticket of Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher

Tyrone’s most successful manager finally was forced into a dignified resignation after it became clear that some on the county board did not support his request for a final year in the job.

Despite taking the county to three All-Ireland titles and six Ulster titles, he walked away as the longest serving manager in the game.

Within the month of November, Tyrone moved fast to appoint two former captains, Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher on a surprise joint-ticket. The two had previously worked together with Logan as manager when they won the All-Ireland Under-21 Championship in 2015.


Outgoing: Lenny Harbinson

Incoming: Enda McGinley

Having managed his club St Gall’s to an All-Ireland club title in 2010, there were high hopes for Harbinson in the county job. However, he did not manage to lift the Saffrons out of Division Four in his three seasons and they were knocked out of Ulster in their first game in each of those seasons. His only win in Championship was a qualifier game against Louth in 2019.

Three-time All-Ireland winner, the former Tyrone player Enda McGinley has family ties with Antrim, the McCann brothers Miceál and Tomás his brothers in law. He brings with him his former team mate and 2005 Player of the Year Stephen O’Neill and his clubmate Stevie Quinn, while the highly-regarded former Antrim player Sean Kelly is in as a selector.


Outgoing: Paul Taylor

Incoming: Tony McEntee

A sixth-placed finish to their Division Four campaign last year, and conceding their Championship game to Galway due to a Covid outbreak in the panel doesn’t tell the full story of Sligo’s potential.

Securing Tony McEntee, a serial winner as a player before managing Crossmaglen Rangers to two All-Irelands, shows ambition. Somehow, Down and Monaghan both opted against McEntee when the job looked his and he spent some time coaching Mayo. He brings some of that Mayo backroom team with him in this new venture.


Outgoing: Wayne Kierans

Incoming: Mickey Harte

The biggest shock of all management manoeuvres was Harte agreeing to take over Louth just two weeks after leaving Tyrone.

New Louth manager Mickey Harte
New Louth manager Mickey Harte

He inherits a team that are unsure of their ability, having been relegated from Division Three with just two points before defeat in Leinster to Longford.

However, the optimism of having Harte arrive along with his coach Gavin Devlin and a rejuvenated former AFL player Ciaran Byrne, all makes them a seriously interesting storyline to keep an eye on.


Outgoing: Benji Whelan

Incoming: Shane Ronayne

Only appointed in January, Ronayne is held up as an up and coming coach, who despite his youth has been coaching since 2005.

In his four years with Tipperary ladies, he brought them to four national titles. He started his period with Tipp in Division Three and competing in the Intermediate Championship and left them heading into their third year in Division One and competing at senior Championship.

He also brought Cork club Mourneabbey to county, provincial and All-Ireland honours in recent years.

McEntee seeking unlikely double

Christy O'Connor

When Tony McEntee was appointed Sligo manager last November, he joined an illustrious list of All-Ireland winning club managers chasing that same All-Ireland glory on the inter-county stage.

New Sligo manager Tony McEntee 
New Sligo manager Tony McEntee 

It’s a logical career path to the top but it’s been noticeable how many football managers who guided clubs to All-Ireland finals subsequently became inter-county managers over the last three decades.

Billy Morgan (Nemo Rangers – Cork), Tommy Lyons (Kilmacud Crokes — Offaly/Dublin), John Evans (Laune Rangers — Tipperary/Roscommon/Wicklow), Joe Kernan (Crossmaglen — Armagh/Galway), John Maughan (Crossmolina Deel Rangers – Clare, Mayo, Fermanagh, Roscommon, Offaly), Brian McIvor (Ballinderry — Donegal/Derry), Frank Doherty (Caltra — Clare), Pat O’Shea (Dr Crokes — Kerry), Lenny Harbisson (St Gall’s — Antrim), Micheál McDermott (Kilmurry Ibrickane — Clare), Kevin McStay (St Brigid’s — Roscommon), Stephen Rochford (Corofin — Mayo), Andy McEntee (Ballyboden St Enda’s — Meath), Micky Moran (Slaughtneil, Kilcoo – Sligo, Derry, Donegal, Mayo, Leitrim), Tony McEntee (Crossmaglen – Sligo).

The late Eugene McGee was the original trailblazer, having led UCD to successive All-Ireland club titles in 1974 and 1975 before managing Offaly to the historic 1982 title.

In the last three decades, Billy Morgan and Joe Kernan are the only managers to have achieved that rare managerial All-Ireland double at club and inter-county level.

However, Pat O’Shea very nearly pulled off that feat in the same year in 2007. O’Shea managed Kerry to the 2007 All-Ireland title, just six months after his Dr Crokes side narrowly lost the All-Ireland club final to Crossmaglen after a replay.

Mickey Harte also nearly hit that incredible double in 2003; his Errigal Ciaran team lost an All-Ireland semi-final to Nemo before Harte led Tyrone to their first All-Ireland senior title that September.

In the current game, only three managers have now that opportunity to try and combine that unique achievement of managing an All-Ireland club winning side with an inter-county senior team – Maughan, Andy McEntee and Tony McEntee.

But those odds are astronomically long for the managers of Offaly, Meath and Sligo.

- You can read the Irish Examiner's 20-page special publication looking forward to the Allianz Football League and Championship with your Friday edition of the Irish Examiner in stores or from our epaper site.

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