GAA Football

Ex-U21 boss Darren Chapman rules himself out of the running for Fermanagh job

Pete McGrath's time in charge of Fermanagh came to an end last week when the players voted against the Down native continuing for a fifth year. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

FORMER Fermanagh U21 boss Darren Chapman has reluctantly ruled himself out of the running to replace the deposed Pete McGrath.

The Newtownbutler man is one of several names to have been linked with the post, which became vacant following a vote of no confidence in McGrath from the Erne players – just over a week after the two-time All-Ireland winner had been ratified for another term.

Chapman was in the running for the job when John O’Neill was handed the reins in 2010 and admits that, while he would be keen to manage Fermanagh one day, now is not the right time.

“I would love to go for the job but unfortunately with work and my son Darragh’s football commitments - at the moment he’s out four or five times a week with Ballinamallard United – I just wouldn’t have the time,” said Chapman, who works in the construction industry and also runs a commercial consultancy business.

“That’s why I’ve taken a year out of club management, and inter-county management is almost a full-time job.

“I interviewed for the job the time John O’Neill got it and was hugely disappointed not to get it then. The county board made their decision and the rest is history.

“I haven’t gone for it since. It just hasn’t been right, but it is something I would love to do - just not at the moment.”

Chapman knows several of the current panel from his time in charge of the county U21s from 2009-’11, and feels they are “better than they’ve shown” during a campaign that saw them relegated to Division Three before an early exit from the Championship.

“All the boys on the panel, or the vast majority of them, would’ve been in my U21 teams, so I know that group of players and I know what they’re capable of,” continued Chapman, who has won county championships with his native Newtownbutler and Cavan Gaels.

“The Fermanagh players are better than they’ve shown this year and Pete McGrath’s right, a lot of that is down to injuries.

“We have finite resources, so when you lose that amount of players it’s going to have a knock-on effect on performances and the morale level within the camp.

“I felt sorry for Pete this year. He had less than a full hand to deal with and I believe they’re capable of much more.”

A Fermanagh county management meeting is set to take place on Monday night, with the full county board convening on Monday, August 7. At that stage nominations will be taken and a selection committee formed to conduct interviews.

The Erne county have looked outside for their last two appointments – Peter Canavan and McGrath – and it remains to be seen whether they change tack this time around.

Another man who has been linked with the position is Dominic Corrigan.

The former Erne player and boss, who managed his native county from 2000-2003, is extremely highly thought of and last year led Killyclogher to a first Tyrone championship since 2003.

The Kinawley man’s sons, Tomas and Ruairi, are part of the current Fermanagh panel.

Chapman refused to be drawn on who might or might not be in the running for the job, but hopes it is somebody who can lift the county’s fortunes after a dismal 2017.

He added: “I don’t have a preference on who takes the job, as long as it’s somebody who galvanises everything again and builds on what Pete McGrath and Raymie [Johnston] did. That’s the only thing I want to see.

“Getting back into Division Two is an absolute must. To be competing at that level in the National League is the minimum requirement for whoever comes in.”

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GAA Football