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Tony McEntee in the frame as Burns steps down as Mournemen boss

By Declan Bogue

The news that many in Down had been predicting for a week came last night as manager Eamonn Burns stepped down from his managerial post after three years in charge of the Mournemen.

An All-Ireland winner as a player on Pete McGrath's teams of the '90s, Bryansford man Burns had already served as selector for James McCartan with the county seniors for two seasons before he was announced as the new manager in November 2015.

He took over at a time of turmoil after Jim McCorry survived a vote of no confidence from the Down clubs - after it was proposed by the county board themselves - only to resign at a later date.

In Burns' first year in charge, Down went an entire campaign without winning a single game through the league and Championship, the low point coming when they suffered their heaviest ever defeat in Championship football, by 19 points to Monaghan.

Astonishingly, they made the Ulster final the following year with victory over the Oriels, before a poor 2018 and another relegation.

Thoughts will now naturally turn to his successor. The Down county board have a chequered history in recruiting managers, but enough water may have passed under the bridge to resume their interest in Tony McEntee.

The former All-Ireland Club-winning manager of Crossmaglen Rangers was on the verge of agreeing to come in as manager in the summer of 2014 along with Gareth O'Neill, but walked away once there was a breakdown in communications with the board.

After three years as a selector with Stephen Rochford in Mayo, McEntee may fancy a role closer to home.

Others that may come into the frame include a Shane Mulholland and Steven Poacher ticket and Oisin McConville, while former Coalisland trainer Conleith Gilligan could be a long shot.

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