GAA Football

Murtagh hoping Down go for modern approach

Ronan Murtagh Down - Pic D Roughan
By Padraig Kelly

FORMER Down attacker Ronan Murtagh has urged the Mourne county to opt for a manager who can bring a modern touch as they begin the hunt for Eamonn Burns's successor.

That process was expected to have gathered pace at a county board meeting last night with speculation rife about who will be asked to replace Burns after he stepped down on Tuesday night following three years in charge.

Ballyholland native Murtagh, who played for the county between 2001 and 2012, believes that it's time to give youth its chance on the sideline.

“It's a very important appointment because Down are at a massive crossroads at the minute,” he said.

“I would hope that they would maybe go for a younger manager, someone maybe a bit more modern.

“I'm not saying that Eamonn couldn't relate to the players but he did seem to lose a lot of them.

“I would hope that they put a lot of thought into the process too and it's not a rush job.

“We need someone who is going to bring passion and enthusiasm, someone who is going to bring some spirit to the role.

“We also need someone who can organise, someone who can develop a game-plan. Kick-outs, for example, would be a massive thing that needs sorted.

“If you can get all those things right you can go a long way.

“Look at Fermanagh this year, their progress speaks volumes and Down players are every bit as good as Fermanagh's.”

Murtagh's current Ballyholland manager Steven Poacher and his former boss and county teammate Shane Mulholland are some of the names that have already been linked with the position.

The player believes that both would bring a lot to the set-up, while he also thinks that there are a number of other exciting coaches who could also be attainable.

“I suppose with my Ballyholland hat on I wouldn't want to lose Shane and Poacher from the club,” Murtagh said.

“Looking at the bigger picture tough, Down could do worse than have those two involved.

“Then there are the likes of John McEntee, Paddy Tally, Benny Coulter, Danny Hughes.

“You could pick any of them, or some of them working together as a team. You'd love to see a younger, fresher manager with a more modernised game-plan.”

The first major task for whoever gets the job will be to take Down out of Division Three next season.

Murtagh admits that the county is enduring tough times at the moment, but he feels that the light at the end of the tunnel can be reached quickly if everyone is on the same page.

“I played under four different Down managers and one year we didn't win a game in Division Two.

“My last few years playing for Down would have been the most successful even if we didn't win anything.

“You went from 300 supporters watching us in Division Three of the National League to 40,000 going to watch us in Croke Park when we reached the All-Ireland final in 2010.

“Things can change drastically in a very short time, but that all depends on the appointment.

“The county board need the right man that will get the supporters out wanting to watch Down again.”

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