GAA Football

Paddy Tally the favourite to become new Down football manager

Paddy Tally with Down manager James McCartan (left) and Brian McIvor during the Mournemen's successful 2010 campaign
Andy Watters

PADDY Tally has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next manager of the Down senior football team.

The Galbally native has been central to the success of Kevin Walsh’s Galway side this year and The Irish News understands that Down’s management selection committee has been asked to hold off on any approach to him until the end of the Tribesmen’s Championship campaign.

Galway, this year’s Connacht champions and Division One finalists, face Dublin in the first of this weekend's All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-finals at Croke Park. Depending on the result of that game, an inquiry could be made next week to bring the highly-rated Tyrone man back to Ulster football.

A former Red Hand forward, Tally is an innovative tactician and astute man-manager who has amassed a deep reservoir of experience in inter-county management going back to his role in Mickey Harte’s backroom team when Tyrone won their first ever All-Ireland in 2004.

Since then Tally has helped propel Down to the 2010 All-Ireland final as part of James McCartan’s management group and he was also involved with Derry under Brian McIver. Perhaps his finest achievement was managing unfancied St Mary’s College Belfast to Sigerson Cup glory last year

That Ranch team included Down pair Marc Reid and Kevin McKernan. Burren clubman McKernan – an Allstar nominee after the Mournemen’s 2010 run – expressed no preference in who is appointed but he agreed that bringing Tally to Down would be a coup for his county.

“Paddy brought his unique style of coaching to Down,” said McKernan.

“But also his man-management skills were super in terms of getting the best out of the players and it was the same with St Mary’s.

“It would be a massive coup for the county to get him because his record speaks for itself - wherever he has been he has had some sort of success. A man of that calibre in terms of who he has worked with, his role with Galway this year and winning the Sigerson… You know the quality he has and I would say Down would be doing well to get a man as well qualified and experienced as him.”

Tally is Down's number one target but he is by no means the only candidate in the frame with impressive credentials. Former Antrim player and joint-manager Gearoid Adams is also understood to have confirmed his interest in becoming the next Down manager.

After two years in charge of his native county alongside Frank Fitzsimmons, Adams worked with Eamonn Burns in the Down backroom team last season. The former St John’s clubman also had a spell as manager of Clonduff and the time he spent alongside Burns and Cathal Murray last year has left him well placed to step up to take the bainisteoir bib.

Also in the frame is former Down forward and county minor manager Shane Mulholland who could be part of a management duo with current Carlow assistant-manager Stevie Poacher.

McKernan is confident that the new man will inherit a talented and ambitious squad.

“In the last couple of years with Eamonn we had reasonable success in getting to an Ulster final,” he said.

“With us getting that far in the Championship and we should have stayed in Division Two this year, you would hope that people will see the potential that is there. As players we feel the ability is there to go to that next level with the injection of a new management.

“Shane Mulholland, Stevie Poacher, Paddy Tally… Whoever it is, we hope that if the right man comes in things can move forward and we can get boys on board who maybe didn’t commit in the past couple of years.”

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