Eamonn Burns is installed in Mourne County hotseat
The new Down senior football manager is double All-Ireland winner Eamonn Burns.
The appointment was announced by the county board last night and brings to an end the 77-day wait for a replacement for Jim McCorry, who stepped down on August 20 after a vote by club delegates to retain him only passed by a narrow 22-20.
Burns, a midfielder on the 1991 and 1994 teams that brought Sam Maguire back to the Mournes, served as selector for James McCartan in 2013 and 2014, and also had two years in charge of the Down under-21 team.
At club level, he had spells with Ballymartin, Darragh Cross and Tullylish.
It was also ratified that McCartan would take over the minor job from 2016.
A statement sent out by the Down County Board last night explained: "Eamonn Burns will confirm the make-up of his management and backroom teams next week."
County Chairman Sean Rooney said: "Eamonn Burns will undoubtedly bring the same degree of commitment and passion to the job as manager as he did when he was a player and we wish him well. There is considerable goodwill for Eamonn, James and their teams and we will give them all the support and resources that they require."
Without a backroom confirmed, Burns is already behind most counties, a sizeable number having already resumed strength and conditioning programmes by now, if not full pitch training.
He is left with just under two months to select a backroom, host a series of trials, select a panel and prepare for the Dr McKenna Cup.
Down will play their National League campaign in Division One, previous boss McCorry having achieved promotion in 2015 despite the retirements of several experienced and key figures for Down.
Their home games are especially glamorous in the league with Kerry, Dublin and Donegal all set to visit Newry.
Meanwhile the Mourne County have Monaghan as first round opponents in the Ulster Championship.
An announcement confirming a new manager was expected over a fortnight ago, but it is understood by the Belfast Telegraph that Burns was assembling a backroom team of former Dublin coach Mickey Whelan, the veteran St Vincent's man who was a visible and important part of Pat Gilroy's All-Ireland winning Dublin team in 2011, along with Dr Niall Moyna of DCU and formerly Dublin who also spent some time in the Down backroom while James McCartan was manager.
However, it is understood that complications arose in gaining the necessary commitment and the board held off on making an announcement until last night.
An interesting twist in the saga occurred last weekend.
A source maintained that some prominent Down figures, including past managers of the county, met with a member of the Armagh 2002 All-Ireland winning team.
Their request was for the Armagh man to approach Tony McEntee to take the manager's job, a move that was not sanctioned at the highest level of the county board.
It is believed that McEntee, who was very close to taking the role last year before contact between the Orchard man and the then-chairman suddenly broke off.
McEntee, who was managing Dublin club St Brigid's this year, is now poised to train the Dublin-based Mayo players as part of prospective new manager Stephen Rochford's set-up, with a view to being a selector for the county.