The latest recruit to Ulster’s county managerial fraternity unwittingly perhaps encapsulated the feelings of the eight other team bosses when he declared: “I see my priority as delivering a provincial title in 2011.”
Eamonn McEnaney has scarcely had time to warm the Monaghan hot-seat before finding himself immersed in the build-up to tonight’s Ulster Championship draw but he has nonetheless nailed his colours firmly to the mast in terms of what he views as his primary target.
With Mickey Harte having already emphasised that back-to-back Tyrone titles is now a priority for him, Paddy O’Rourke having stressed that he wants to see Armagh make it eight crowns in twelve years and Down boss James McCartan relishing the prospect of observing his side pocket the provincial accolade en route to the closing stages of the All Ireland series, McEnaney has already been acquainted with the enormity of the task that confronts him.
Throw in the desire of Antrim supremo Liam Bradley to see the Saffrons go one better than last year when they lost the Ulster final to Tyrone and the burning ambition shared by McEnaney’s fellow newcomers Jim McGuinness (Donegal), John Brennan (Derry), John O’Neill (Fermanagh) and Val Andrews (Cavan) to hit the provincial jackpot at the first time of asking and it can be clearly seen that the ingredients are there for a pulsating campaign.
With the GAA authorities considering ways and means of further streamlining the championship — the introduction of the hooter system to facilitate time-keeping could be implemented should it prove successful in the National League — the competition could be given something of a face-lift.
But while most managers are preoccupied with the pairings that will ensue tonight, former Armagh All Ireland winner Justin McNulty had a sombre mission to fulfil yesterday. Now the manager of Laois, Dublin-based McNulty attended the funeral of Peter McNulty, a 25-year-old Laois player who died in tragic circumstances at the weekend.
Peter had given superb service to his club Portlaoise and to his county team and his death has cast a shadow over the GAA as a whole in the lead up to the championship draw this evening.