Former Down star Conor Laverty has been appointed the county’s new senior football manager, succeeding James McCartan.
Along with Jim McGuinness, Marty Clarke and Seán Boylan, U20 boss Laverty had been linked with the role last year when Paddy Tally wasn’t afforded an extension. The Kilcoo man later featured on the club’s All-Ireland winning side having picked up their third senior county title in a row, their ninth in the last 10 years.
An Riocht man and former AFL star Clarke will form part of Laverty’s set-up along with Declan Morgan, who are part of his current U20 management that had Ulster success in 2021.
A statement from Down GAA read: "Conor played at all levels for his county, featuring in the All-Ireland Final of 2010 and the Ulster decider two years later. He earned an All-Star nomination for his exploits in the red and black in 2012 and went on to captain Down in 2015.
“He is one of our most decorated club footballers, winning 10 county championships with Kilcoo, and he was joint captain when they won the 2019 and 2020 Ulster titles before leading his club to the ultimate honour in Croke Park in February this year.
"Conor will also continue as U20 manager, a position he was appointed to in December 2020. He guided Down to a provincial title at this grade in his first year in the role. A full U20 management will be confirmed at a later date, with Darragh O'Hanlon (Kilcoo) and Conor Gilmore (St John’s) continuing in their roles."
After a season to forget in which player discipline was called into question, McCartan stepped away last month. Two-time All-Ireland winner McCartan’s side were beaten by Monaghan by 10 points in an Ulster quarter-final. Cavan beat them by nine points in the first round of the Tailteann Cup.
Trinity College GAA development coach Laverty’s appointment will be considered a progressive and unifying one in light of his Kilcoo club-mate Eugene Branagan’s controversial comments earlier this year about the differences between the club and the county.