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Uncertainty remains over county manager positions

By John Campbell

The passage of time has thwarted the efforts of both the Antrim and Down county boards in their bids to have new football bosses in place.

And with the quarter-finals of the senior championships having been all but completed in both counties, it means that the new incumbents will be confronted by a rather more limited diet of high-profile domestic action before they get down to the business of naming their 2015 squads.

A cloud of uncertainty appears to hang over each county as officials strive to smooth the path towards confirming successors to James McCartan and Liam Bradley.

Kilcoo's Jim McCorry, initially touted as a strong candidate for the Down post but now seeming to have conceded ground to Tony McEntee, was on duty last night in his current role when Kilcoo faced Clonduff in the last of the Down Senior Championship quarter-finals at Pairc Esler.

It could well be that McEntee may be confirmed in the Mourne county hot seat before the end of this week, with his tried and trusted Crossmaglen Rangers lieutenant Gareth O'Neill as his number two.

McEntee initially ruled himself out of contention for any managerial role but with his former 2002 All-Ireland-winning colleague Kieran McGeeney, having since been installed as orchard county boss following Paul Grimley's departure, it is thought that McEntee's competitive juices are flowing again.

Down officials have taken stock of the pair's impressive track record with Crossmaglen and obviously hope that they can plot a championship rehabilitation for a county that has not landed an Ulster title since 1994.

And, despite chairman Jim Murray's belief that Antrim might have named their new boss "sooner rather than later," such an appointment may now be deferred until next week.

It is understood that Frankie Fitzsimmons jnr and Aidan O'Rourke have been interviewed for the post and that efforts are being made to speak to former Monaghan and Meath boss Seamus McEnaney who has expressed a strong desire to return to inter-county management.

Fitzsimmons, who is due to take charge of the Lamh Dhearg team that will meet Cargin in the last Antrim quarter-final tonight, has been bereaved by the sudden death of his brother Eddie whose funeral took place on Sunday.

The match had originally been arranged for Saturday evening but was rearranged following the death of Eddie who had played senior football for Antrim and was a noted referee.

County chairman Murray is anxious to get Antrim moving forward and he is particularly keen to see the focus shift onto the 2015 season.

Meanwhile, the fact that the All-Ireland hurling final replay between Tipperary and Kilkenny has gone to a replay has all but dashed the hopes of Antrim's Paul Shiels finishing as the championship's top scorer.

His advantage in the scoring charts has been cut to a solitary point as his tally of 1-64 (67) is just marginally better than that of Tipperary's Seamus Callanan on 7-45 (66) with the latter looking certain to figure on the scoreboard in the replay on Saturday, September 27.

Belfast Telegraph


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