Former Antrim boss Gearoid Adams couldn't say no to Down
FORMER Antrim defender Gearoid Adams says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity of working with the Down senior football squad after manager Eamonn Burns approached him last week to join his backroom team.
The St John’s clubman walked away from his joint manager position with Antrim this summer but finds himself back on the inter-county circuit.
“I was maybe looking to coach and not manage for a year, so this is a great opportunity,” said the St Louis, Ballymena PE teacher.
Adams’ job title is football coach where he will work alongside Burns and Cathal Murray.
The west Belfast native managed Clonduff for a year in 2014 and planned to stay on with the Down club before he was approached to join Antrim’s management team.
“I was definitely staying with Clonduff and then big ‘Russ’ [Frank Fitzsimons] gave me a shout to go in with him in Antrim. It was my own county so I ended up leaving Clonduff early, but I knew there was plenty of potential at the club as they reached a county final a couple of years later.”
Adams taught in De La Salle, Downpatrick for 14 years before moving to St Louis in Ballymena.
“Eamonn approached me a week or so ago,” Adams explained.
“He asked me would I be interested; we met up and discussed what the details of my role would be.
“I would have known Eamonn to talk to during the few challenge games Antrim played against Down and when I was in Clonduff he would ask me about a few of our players.”
Adams was impressed with Down’s Championship form in 2017 and feels they can “push on” and give promotion a rattle next season.
Adams quit the Antrim set-up after the county board opted for a nominations process.
After a long drawn out affair, Lenny Harbinson was announced successor to Adams and Frank Fitzsimons.
On his Antrim departure, he said: “Sometimes when it’s your own club or your own county people don’t realise the amount of work that actually goes into a set-up.
“We’ll see how Antrim pans out after our time there and all those young boys coming through. But in terms of Down it was nice to get the offer, obviously.
“It’s great to go down to a set-up where they have got three pitches, floodlights and a weights room beside it.
“I’m excited about it because I’m going into a good set-up with good players.”
Meanwhile, new Antrim boss Lenny Harbinson wants the “best available players” playing for the senior team in 2018 - and threw a challenge down to last season’s panel.
The St Gall’s man hopes to have a panel in place by the middle of next month.
“The key message going out to last year's players is they need to make sure they’re fit and that they’re training behind the scenes when they come for a trial game because I stipulated to the Football Review Committee that I want to search high and low for new talent and I don’t care at what level – junior, intermediate or senior,” Harbinson said.
“I want to make sure that we have the best players available on the field and for them to be the best they’re going to have to be in the right shape, fitness-wise, diet-wise and whatever else.
“There are no guarantees. Just because somebody was there last year it’s not going to be a given they’ll be there this year.
The 2010 St Gall's All-Ireland Club winning manager added: “Of course, we’re realistic. You would have to assume the vast majority – maybe not all – were the best players in Antrim [in 2017].
"But there’s always new blood coming through...”
In a wide-ranging interview in today’s Irish News, the Belfast man said the county needed a new Casement Park to inspire the next generation for Gaelic Games in Antrim to flourish.
“It’s very important to give young players a vision and an aspiration of playing at Casement Park,” he said.
“It’s important those plans get passed because it’s going to be an iconic stadium. For any youngster coming down from the south west [of the county] to play a club match in Belfast and drives past it, or indeed any youngster in Belfast, that’s somewhere they will want to play.”