Former Down All-Ireland winning manager Pete McGrath has revealed he once turned down an approach to manage Dublin.
The current Fermanagh boss says he was contacted by the Dubs in 2004 after Tommy Lyons left as manager and before Paul ‘Pillar’ Caffrey was appointed.
Dublin have never had an ‘outside’ senior football manager, although legendary Kerry manager Mick O’Dwyer was heavily linked with the position after the departure of Mayo-born Lyons in ‘04.
Now McGrath, whose Erne side play Antrim in the Ulster SFC on Sunday, claims he was also sounded out at that time by Dublin county board chief executive, John Costello, while he was managing Ireland’s International Rules squad.
“After my first year of International Rules management, there was a tentative approach made by John Costello from Dublin,” McGrath revealed.
“That’s when I was still teaching and the prospect of driving up and down to Dublin. I would say it was a tentative approach but I said ‘no’.”
Although he was disappointed with how his 13-year reign in Down ended in 2002, McGrath says he did not take the Fermanagh job to prove he could still cut it as a senior inter-county manager, insisting he turned down a number of inter-county jobs — including Meath — before accepting the Erne post 18 months ago.
“Things didn’t end that well in Down and I recognise that, but coming here (to Fermanagh) wasn’t to prove a point to Down people, not at all.
“Since then (2002) I was nearly taking other jobs. Twice I nearly took the Louth job. I nearly took the Monaghan job before Eamonn McEneaney (in October 2010) and I was lobbied very hard by Meath people to go down there.
“I knew that those jobs weren’t right because I wasn’t ready to go back into county senior football. But when this opportunity came, very late in the day in November 2013, I said to myself, ‘Look, you’re out of teaching and this could be your last chance to manage at this level so go for it’.
“Coming here was me doing what I wanted to do.”
The 60-year-old says he still gets a “fix” from working within a team dynamic and admits it would be “a dull life” without football.
“If you get a strong group dynamic going there is a great buzz and a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction from working with a group that has a common purpose,” he explained.
“That gives me a lot of satisfaction and if that was to be chopped out of my life it would be a very dull life for me. There are lows — ask any manager. You can reach the depths of depression but I always say to the players we are doing this for the people of Fermanagh.
“We want to give them a county team they are going to be proud of, give them county players they’ll want to emulate, give them iconic figures. Tyrone have them, Down have them, Donegal have them.
“Our guys can be those figures for Fermanagh.
“So it’s about doing it for more than yourself. You are doing it for others as well. I think when you’ve got higher motives then the higher your performance will get.”
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