GAA Football

Poacher: I'm not the man for Down - Paddy Tally is

Steven Poacher has ruled himself out of the running to take over as the next Down football manager.

STEVEN Poacher will not be the next Down manager after deciding to withdraw his name from the race, with the Carlow coach saying an outside man is needed – and throwing his weight behind Paddy Tally.

Speculation was rife yesterday that Tally is in line to be appointed, but the Galbally man is understood to have made no decision on his future with Galway, whom he coached this year.

Poacher, whose work alongside Turlough O’Brien over the past two seasons has helped Carlow scale unprecedented heights in both National League and Championship, had also been tipped in the race replace Eamonn Burns in his native county.

But, despite public backing from a number of players, Poacher says that after a period of soul-searching, potential issues with administrative figures in the county have convinced him that Down needs an outside manager.

“I think the time is right for an outside man. I mean that, hand on heart. Internally, we still have a group of people in administration that an outside person just might it easier to move on with. The more I thought about it, the more I said no.”

Paddy Tally’s name has been strongly linked with the job. He has held a number of high-profile coaching roles since making his name in Tyrone’s 2003 run to their first ever Sam Maguire joy, and managed St Mary’s to a shock Sigerson Cup success in 2017.

He coached Down when they reached the All-Ireland final in 2010 and spent this season with Connacht champions Galway, whose campaign ended on Saturday with their All-Ireland semi-final loss at the hands of Dublin.

“I’d love to see Paddy get it,” said Poacher.

“I think he’s tailor made for it. He’s got that energy, he’s strong-minded and won’t let himself be influenced by administrators, and he’ll bring his own men with him, which is vitally important.

“Down have had this thing fired at them about ‘the Down way’ of playing, but there has been no Down way for over 20 years now. We have had no defined way of playing.

“Paddy will bring that structure and that element of everyone knowing their roles to the game, which is important. 

“Talent will only get you so far, and after that you need a plan. There is talent within the county. I feel that he could be the man to bring it forward.

“He has a lot of experience himself. Tyrone won the All-Ireland in 2003, so you’re talking about 15 years’ experience. 

“The game’s become very high energy and it’s a young man’s game. It maybe does no harm to have that wee bit of experience as eyes in the stand or whatever, I know Dublin are massive into that, but the man carries a serious clout and serious experience himself, at inter-county level, club level and Sigerson Cup level. He has a great knowledge of the players in Ulster as well, which is important as well.”

Poacher, who also ruled himself out of the running back in 2015 saying that his ‘face doesn’t fit with the hierarchy’, says he remains concerned that things are not progressing in the background when it comes to Down football.

“At the minute I’d just worry about how things are being moved forward behind the scenes. But good luck to whoever does step into the breach because they’re a great bunch of players and they’ve had a tough couple of years.

“They’ve had a lot of criticism fired at them, and a lot of it unfair. The players are putting in an effort and training four or five nights a week, and no players deserve that criticism.

“Inter-county playing now is a hard gig with the exposure to social media and the criticism that’s out there.

“It’s very difficult for a player and fans are very quick to get on the backs of players when a lot of them don’t really know what’s happening behind the scenes. I just hope the players get what they deserve.”

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