GAA Football

Plenty of interest in Down job says Sean Rooney

Down county chairman Sean Rooney says they hope to have a new manager in place by 'mid-to-late August'.

DOWN county chairman Sean Rooney says they have had early expressions of interest in replacing Eamonn Burns, and that they are hoping to have a new manager appointed by “mid-to-late August”.

The five-man committee of Rooney, Jack Devanney, Gerry Dougherty, Liam Doyle and Danny Hughes has met collectively just once.

Rooney says that, while understanding the urgency of making a swift appointment, they are conscious that some of the potential candidates are currently involved with clubs inside the county.

Down’s senior club football championship will begin on the weekend of August 12, with everyone playing two consecutive weekends before a round of qualifiers, leaving half the teams eliminated by August 26.

While that may not account for any or all of the potential candidates within the county, the committee is keen to avoid conflict with the clubs as far as possible.

“There is a bit of interest but there will be people still involved with club championships and other things. We’ll have to take our time and get the thing right.

“You don’t want to be annoying clubs or people within clubs at this time, just as the club championship’s about to start in a couple of weeks.

“We do understand the urgency of it. We don’t want to rush into it but we don’t want to leave it late either.

“That’s why we’ve had a bit of a discussion on it among ourselves before we progress anywhere.

“There are a couple of names that have come forward and expressed an interest in chatting to us about it, but we haven’t done anything about it yet because some of those people are involved with clubs that are taking part in championship within Down in the next couple of weeks.

“To be fair to them and to our clubs, we’d be better to take our time and do the process right, rather than rushing into something.”

Eamonn Burns, who stepped down at the beginning of this month following their qualifier defeat by Cavan, was only appointed in November 2015 after a prolonged process.

Jim McCorry had only stepped down in late August, but it took two-and-a-half months to replace him and left Burns fighting an uphill battle because of the inability to build a proper base in pre-season.

Rooney, while keen to keep the peace with the clubs, is aware of the need for efficiency and says that, while the details have yet to be ironed out, they are open to starting interviews with potential outside candidates in the meantime – and says they are open to an outsider being given the job.

“Absolutely, we’ll be looking at every option. We need to get this appointment right and it’s important that we explore every opportunity.

“That’s what we told the clubs at the last meeting, when the five-man committee was appointed, that we’d be leaving no stone unturned, be that within Down or outside Down.

“You’d be hoping to have it done for mid-to-late August. That’s a month from now. It’s not something that we want to run on into October, then people get anxious, the press gets anxious, everybody gets anxious.

“It’s something we want to get done as quietly and quickly as we can, and as efficiently as we can as well.

“There are three rounds of the championship happening on three consecutive weeks in August, so by the end of that things will be a bit clearer as regards people within Down.

“There may be other people interested as well that we’ll want to chat to.”

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