Down’s appointment of Conor Laverty to the position of senior football manager is one of the latest in a very busy hiring season at intercounty level.
His accession to the role may well encourage other Kilcoo players to get involved and resolve a situation where the club, crowned All-Ireland champions last February, has had a fitful engagement with the county team.
Eight vacancies remain to be filled — Donegal, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Offaly, Longford, Wexford and Wicklow — plus the four new appointments of Laverty, Andy McEntee (Antrim), Colm O’Rourke (Meath) and John Cleary (Cork, whose temporary appointment was made permanent when Keith Ricken confirmed his resignation because of health issues).
There had also been a couple of counties where the incumbent manager was considering his position – Colm Collins in Clare, the longest serving football manager, and Mickey Graham, who completed his four-year appointment in Cavan in July.
On Monday night Cavan announced that Graham had accepted a two-year extension to his appointment, which will be ratified at the next county committee meeting.
The vacancy list includes half the Division One counties, Monaghan, Donegal, Mayo and Roscommon, whose managers Séamus McEnaney, Declan Bonnar, James Horan and Anthony Cunningham, all called it a day after championship defeats.
The Monaghan position was originally very firmly associated with former Dublin All-Ireland winner, Jason Sherlock, who was part of Jim Gavin’s five-in-a-row management.
That initial favouritism has waned with Sherlock reportedly having difficulty assembling a back room team — something at which outgoing manager McEnaney excelled over the years.
As the selection process moves to interview, the new front-runner is Mark Counihan, who managed the county minors to the 2019 Ulster title. His proposed management team is Paul McIver, who has previous county experience and an exceptional record at club level in Ulster.
Highly regarded coach Colm Nally, who worked with Meath in recent years, is also included, as is former Ballybay manager Colin Malone.
The appointment is expected later this week, as the county football championship is already up and running.
Donegal have set a deadline of next Monday, August 15th for clubs to submit nominations. There is also a three-strong subcommittee appointed to make recommendations and the hope is that the new manager will be in situ by the end of August.
Mayo are also now at the interview stage and have four confirmed candidates: Ray Dempsey, Kevin McStay, Declan Shaw and Mike Solan. McStay, a well-known RTÉ analyst and columnist with this newspaper, caused something of a surprise when news of his interest and strong back room team emerged the week before last.
It included Liam McHale, who was part of McStay’s management when St Brigid’s of Roscommon won the All-Ireland club title, well-known coach Donie Buckley, who has worked previously with Mayo as well as in recent years with Monaghan.
Former Mayo manager Stephen Rochford and Damien Mulligan, who was a successful manager of Belmullet, are also on the ticket.
All-Ireland under-20 winning manager Solan has engaged the support of Aidan O’Rourke, the Armagh All-Ireland winner, who has wide experience of coaching at county level as well as with Queens in the Sigerson, Eamonn O’Hara, the former Sligo All-Star and former Mayo footballer Mark Ronaldson.
Declan Shaw, the former Castlebar Mitchels manager, has another Sligo man, Dessie Sloyan, who led his county to a first under-20 provincial title, former Dublin player and Tipperary coach Paddy Christie as well as one of Shaw’s Castlebar alumni Richie Feeney on his proposed slate.
Ray Dempsey has yet to announce his proposed back room team.
Neighbours and All-Ireland finalists Galway have to finalise the reappointment of Pádraic Joyce, not because there’s any doubt over their willingness but because his appointment was for three years, which is now complete.
An extension is more or less a formality.
“I think everyone has been left to their own devices over the past couple of weeks,” according to county chair Paul Bellew. “We’ll get together in the next couple of weeks but obviously it will be very much Pádraic’s decision. The hope is that he will stay on.”
Dublin are in a similar position with Dessie Farrell. His initial three-year appointment concluded with the All-Ireland semi-final defeat by eventual champions Kerry. The assumption is that he will be interested in a further term and that will be up to him after his first term included an All-Ireland and narrow defeats in two semi-finals.
Offaly, like Dublin, are also looking for a hurling manager and the matter is being dealt with by a subcommittee chaired by county chair, Michael Duignan. Former Limerick, Laois and Tipperary manager Liam Kearns has been associated with the football position.
Galway: Pádraic Joyce
Extension expected to be ratified by county board
Leitrim: Andy Moran
Mayo: Vacancy (James Horan)
Four candidates: Ray Dempsey, Kevin McStay, Declan Shaw and Mike Solan are declared.
Roscommon: Vacancy (Anthony Cunningham)
Sligo: Tony McEntee
Carlow: Niall Carew
Dublin: Dessie Farrell
Initial term is complete but renewal likely
Kildare: Glenn Ryan
Laois: Billy Sheehan
Longford: Vacancy (Billy O’Loughlin)
Louth: Mickey Harte
Meath: Colm O’Rourke (succeeds Andy McEntee)
Offaly: Vacancy (John Maughan)
Westmeath: John Cooney
Wexford: Vacancy (Shane Roche)
Wicklow: Vacancy (Alan Costello and Gary Duffy)
Selection process under way. Outgoing caretaker management hope to continue.
Clare: Colm Collins
Football’s longest serving manager is currently considering his future
Cork: John Cleary (succeeds Keith Ricken)
Kerry: Jack O’Connor
Limerick: Billy Lee
Tipperary: David Power
Waterford: Ephie Fitzgerald
Antrim: Andy McEntee (succeeds Enda McGinley)
Armagh: Kieran McGeeney
Extension expected to be ratified by county board
Cavan: Mickey Graham
Derry: Rory Gallagher
Donegal: Vacancy (Declan Bonnar)
Down: Conor Laverty (succeeds James McCartan)
Fermanagh: Kieran Donnelly
Monaghan: Vacancy (Séamus McEnaney)
Tyrone: Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher