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Derry and Monaghan take patient route in hunt for new boss

 

Odds on: Rory Gallagher is thought to be the favourite to become the new Derry football team manager
Odds on: Rory Gallagher is thought to be the favourite to become the new Derry football team manager
John Campbell

By John Campbell

The appointment of a new football boss in both Derry and Monaghan may be deferred now that the Club Championships are to hold the spotlight in each county.

It had been thought initially that the counties might have expedited appointments so that the respective new incumbents would have the maximum time in which to prepare for the 2020 campaign, but now it would appear that the county boards are prepared to show more patience.

It is believed that an interview process will be conducted in Derry, where former Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher is thought to be the frontrunner to take over from Damian McErlain, but even following this process it is understood that the clubs will be consulted before any appointment is ratified.

A source close to the Derry board revealed that the views of clubs is seen as important in the context of the managerial appointment because of recent developments within the county.

Derry made the move up from Division Four of the Allianz League but because of the presence of teams like Cork in Division Three, their prospects of back-to-back promotions will depend on an encouraging start to 2020.

And with the Oak Leaf County not having won the Ulster Championship title since 1998, there is now a deep yearning for a return to the provincial throne.

One Derry club official said: "You could say that we have been left behind in Ulster and that's something that is making us all feel uncomfortable. You see other Ulster sides making progress while we seem to be dealing with internal problems. Hopefully we can turn the corner and maybe make a better impact next year."

The Derry Senior Football Championship is due to start over the course of the weekend of September 6-8 with the quarter-finals and semi-finals scheduled before the end of September and the final listed for early October.

And while Derry target McErlain's successor, the Monaghan county board are also pushing out the boat to find who they feel will be the right man to succeed Malachy O'Rourke, who brought two Ulster titles to the county in his seven seasons in charge.

He also brought the Oriel County into the closing stages of the All-Ireland series on a regular basis, their most heartbreaking defeat coming in last year's All-Ireland semi-final when they were just pipped by a point by Tyrone in rather controversial circumstances following what appeared to be a faux pas by referee Anthony Nolan.

The Monaghan Championship is already under way and while former Armagh All-Ireland winner Tony McEntee was spotted at two early games, the fact that his brother John manages the Clontibret club could have explained his presence.

McEntee has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Monaghan post, while former Oriel boss Seamus McEnaney is also thought to be in the reckoning.

Indeed, there is speculation within the county that McEnaney has already approached former Tyrone strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly and ex-Kilcoo and Down ace Conor Laverty to be part of his backroom team.

Donnelly has just taken up a new appointment with Ulster Rugby and Tyrone are bidding to replace both him and Stephen O'Neill, who has stepped down as forwards coach.

If McEnaney were to be handed another term as Monaghan boss and assuming that Donnelly and Laverty were to be part of his ticket, then this would certainly create considerable interest within the county where there is a marked desire on the part of fans to see the progress which O'Rourke oversaw built upon.

There were initial fears that veteran county players such as Dessie Mone, Vinny Corey and others might call time on their careers but such misgivings have now been allayed.

Corey, along with other current county players Mone, Conor Boyle and Conor McManus, was in the Clontibret side that beat Carrickmacross in their opening Championship game after a penalty shoot-out.

McManus did not start because he is still recovering from injury but was brought on in the second half to help pull the game out of the fire.

Belfast Telegraph

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