Down championship crown the highlight as Paddy O'Rourke steps down as Burren manager
PADDY O'Rourke has stepped down as manager of his native St Mary's Burren after four seasons at the helm.
The highlight of the All-Ireland-winning Down skipper's tenure came when he guided the club to their first county title in seven years.
O'Rourke had played a pivotal role in Burren's six in-a-row success in the 1980s during his stellar playing career and his side scuppered Kilcoo's bid for a record-breaking seven in-a-row in 2018 with a 2-12 to 2-9 win in a dramatic final.
O'Rourke has also had success at inter-county level. He took over as Down manager in 2003 and promptly led the county to their first Ulster final since 1993. The Mournemen went into the decider as underdogs but took Tyrone to a replay and although the Red Hands prevailed second time around O'Rourke went a step further with the Down U21 side; leading them to a provincial title in 2005.
He also had success with Down's arch-rivals Armagh. After succeeding Peter McDonnell in 2010, O'Rourke guided the Orchard county to the NFL Division Two title in his first season before passing the baton to Paul Grimley in 2012.
Burren are expected to stay within their parish boundaries in the search for O'Rourke's successor. The impressive shortlist of candidates is likely to include Neil Coulter, a successful underage manager with Burren who took Killeavy to an Armagh senior championship semi-final this year in which the St Monnina's outfit came close to beating Crossmaglen in a nail-biting clash at the Athletic Grounds.
John 'Shorty' Trainor and Anthony Cunningham are also expected to be in the running as is former Down full-back Dan McCartan, who has been part of his brother James's management team with the Down minor side.