Former Down forward Marty Clarke enters inter-county management scene with Cavan U20s

Former Down star Martin Clarke will be part of the Cavan U20s football management next year.
Former Down star Martin Clarke will be part of the Cavan U20s football management next year.

FORMER Down star Marty Clarke will take his first step into inter-county management with the Cavan U20 football side.

The Cavan County Board has confirmed that the An Riocht clubman, who retired from playing in March of this year (apart from one club appearance in late August), will be part of the backroom team under the management of Breffni U20s boss Kevin Downes.

Clarke could come up against his native county in the Ulster semi-finals, although Cavan would need to get past Donegal in the preliminary round and Derry in the quarter-finals, while the Mourne lads would have to defeat Antrim.

Clarke, who only turned 30 earlier this month, was a prodigious underage talent himself, winning an Ulster U21 title at the age of 17 in 2005 before going on to help Down collect the All-Ireland Minor crown later that same year.

He could have been a star of the county Down for years but his performance in the 2005 MacRory Cup final with St Louis', Kilkeel, attracted the attention of AFL scouts, and he signed for Collingwood in 2006.

Clarke retired from the AFL in September 2009, returning home, and led Down to a surprise All-Ireland SFC Final appearance in 2010, a year in which he won an Allstar and was voted 'The Irish News Footballer of the Year'.

He returned to Collingwood the next year, but failed to make much impact, later discovering that he had Addison's disease.

The consultant who broke the news to him did so by saying: "Have you ever considered management?"

Clarke will now do so alongside former Cavan Gaels footballer and hurler Downes, who had spent two seasons as a Cavan senior selector in Terry Hyland's senior management during the 2015 and 2016 campaigns before a similar role with Westmeath senior footballers this year.

Prior to that Downes spent four years as coach with the London senior footballers. His backroom team also includes Jimmy Higgins (Crosserlough), who was part of Hyland's backroom in 2016 and that of current senior boss Mattie McGleenan's this year.

Cavan County Board has also announced that Galway native Michael Carr is their new senior hurling manager, while John Brady will continue as U17 manager.

Carr, from Clarinbridge, now lives in Cavan, and previously managed his native clubs U21s for three years; in Cavan, he led Lacken Camogie club to a league and championship double in 2006.

He won Galway and Connacht championship honours with Clarinbridge as a player in 2001 and a Lory Meagher Allstar in 2009 with Cavan; this year he won the Cavan SHC with Mullahoran St Joseph's.

Joining his backroom team will be selectors Daithi Neary, Thomas Smith and Michael 'Bricker' Wall.

Cavan hurlers returned to inter-county competition in this year after a six-year lay-off, playing in the Lory Meagher Cup. Next year they will return to Allianz League action in Division 3B.

The Cavan County Board thanked the outgoing management team of former Antrim boss `Dinny' Cahill, Seamus Hughes, Eamonn Dalton, Sean Farrell, and Peadar Neary for their work and commitment involved in this season.

Brady will continue as U17 football manager following a successful year with both the Cavan U17 and U18 (Minor) teams. Brady took both sides to Ulster Finals and the Minors to the All-Ireland semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Kerry.