Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

O’Rourke takes next step as he gets top job at Louth

Aidan O'Rourke (right), former All-Ireland winner with Armagh, has been appointed manager of Louth

Louth county board have confirmed that former Armagh All-Ireland winner Aidan O'Rourke is their new senior football manager.

He takes over the role from Peter Fitzpatrick, who stepped down after combining the role with that of local Fine Gael TD for a period.

Last season, he won promotion to division two after defeating Westmeath in the final.

In the All-Ireland, they crashed out of the Leinster Championship with a 16-point defeat to Dublin and then in the All-Ireland series with a loss to Westmeath in Mullingar.

There had been strong speculation that Fergal Reel — another Armagh man — was going to be appointed as manager.

But it is believed that he is to stay with the St Patrick's club after they landed the county title on Sunday.

O'Rourke brings vast experience as a number two at inter-county level, but now steps up to become his own man in the ‘Wee' county.

As well as that experience, the proximity of the county to his homeplace of Dromintee is another positive factor, with a degree

of inter-mingling in the football culture of north Louth and south Armagh.

In his role as GAA Development Officer at Queen's, he also has his finger on the pulse of all the latest advances in coaching and can plug into what is going on in other counties through the Queen's players.

Previous to this appointment, O'Rourke had been interviewed for the post of Monaghan manager, which was awarded to Malachy O'Rourke instead.

And although his name was at one time linked to the then-vacant post at Antrim, he did not put himself forward for interview.

Last season he went into the Down backroom team under James McCartan, after he dispensed with Paddy Tally as team trainer.

For two seasons before that, O'Rourke had joined his former team-mate in the Armagh half-back line — Kieran McGeeney — to be his assistant at Kildare.

It now leaves us with an extraordinary situation whereby three of the Armagh 2002 All-Ireland winning defence will be managing teams in the 2013 Leinster Championship.

The others are Kieran McGeeney who was ratified as Kildare manager for another year last week, and Justin McNulty in Laois.

Speaking about that very phenomenon recently, O'Rourke said: “We were blessed in that there were so many leaders within our team.

“And within that again there were some truly exceptional leaders.

“Kieran McGeeney and Paul McGrane were the two pillars of that team. But below that there were seven or eight men who were sub-leaders if you like,” O’Rourke stated.

“There were a lot of decisions made out on the pitch; that was the dynamic of the team, and that has carried on with those players now who are continuing their drive for success in the managerial and coaching sphere.”

Meanwhile, the Antrim county board has now officially ratified the appointment of their new football manager Frank Dawson at a county executive meeting, as we reported last week.

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