GAA Football

Dominic Corrigan open to inter-county return in 2022 after Leitrim SFC success

Experienced manager Dominic Corrigan. who led Ballinamore to the Leitrim title on Sunday, admits he could return to the inter-county scene once he retires from St Michael's College. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

FORMER Fermanagh boss Dominic Corrigan has admitted he would consider a return to inter-county management next year, after helping Ballinamore end a 31-year wait to land the Leitrim championship on Sunday.

It was the sixth county title Corrigan has got his hands on, having coached alongside Pete McMahon as Castleblayney swept to the Monaghan crown in 1999 and 2000 before leading Carrickmore (2004), Clontibret (2014) and Killyclogher (2016) to the top of the tree.

His MacRory Cup endeavours with St Michael’s College are also well documented but, with this his final year before retirement, Corrigan admits the inter-county scene could be an option down the line.

“I’m retiring in June, so after that I would look at it because I look at county management as a full-time position,” said the Kinawley clubman, who managed his native county and Sligo during the Noughties and has been linked with a host of different posts through the years.

“I wouldn’t take anything on at the minute, I’m focusing on the MacRory Cup now that Ballinamore have brought the title home, but I wouldn’t rule out county management down the line.

“I’ve been linked and had plenty of enquiries but, certainly for the next 12 months, I’m happy where I’m at. After that we’ll see.”

For the time being, however, Corrigan is happy to live in the moment after Ballinamore’s momentous victory over defending champions Mohill.

The Sean O’Heslin’s sit at the top of the county’s roll of honour, but hadn’t been champions since 1990, last losing out in the 2019 decider during Corrigan’s first year at the helm.

It’s no wonder such emotional scenes greeted the end of the game, which was broadcast live on TG4, while a banner bearing the slogan ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ welcomed the victorious team home from Carrick-on-Shannon.

Even for a man who has been there and done it all, Sunday’s success ranked “right up there” with any over triumph Corrigan has been involved in.

“I’ve often had worse Monday mornings,” he laughed yesterday.

“The celebrations went on, and they’re still going on. I left Ballinamore around 3am and got a lift back to Enniskillen, so I was fit to surface this morning, just about.

“I’ll probably head down there this evening, because it has been a massive release of emotion for the whole community – 31 years was a famine for that club.

“Some of the players mentioned to me how sport, especially after the last couple of years, is something that still has the power to put smiles back on people’s faces. I know there were tears of joy yesterday, but it was mostly smiles, and the smiles will be in Ballinamore for a long, long time yet.

“For a game like that to be showcased on national TV, it was brilliant. Leitrim don’t normally get that kind of positive publicity about their football, but yesterday was as good a football as you’d see in any county in Ireland.

“I’m close to 60 years of age, and days like that are probably sweeter now because you know there may not be that many of them left. I certainly enjoyed it immensely because when I went in there three years ago, a huge transformation was required with regard to mindsets and the whole culture in the club.

“We had to create that high performance environment for them to go out and thrive, so that brings a lot of personal satisfaction. When you look at where they at three years ago to where they were yesterday, they’ve made huge progress.

“County titles are hard won no matter where they’re at but, of any other jobs or successes I’ve had, yesterday would right up there with any of them.”

New Leitrim manager Andy Moran was among the crowd in Carrick-on-Shannon yesterday, and Corrigan expects the 2017 Footballer of the Year to make a big impact once next year’s National League kicks into gear.

“There is a good buzz about the county at the minute, and the thing I’ve noticed in my three years in Leitrim, there are good footballers here.

“What they need now is somebody like Andy to put a template in place, similar to what Mayo have, and then Leitrim players would buy into that. I think you’ll see a massive kick in Leitrim this year.

“They’ll be dangerous opponents for anybody in Division Four, I have no doubt about that.”

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