Football

Donegal job won't faze Paddy Carr: Ballymun Kickhams Paddy Christie

Paddy Carr will have Aidan O'Rourke as his head coach as they take on the Donegal reins Picture: Seamus Loughran.
Paddy Carr will have Aidan O'Rourke as his head coach as they take on the Donegal reins Picture: Seamus Loughran. Paddy Carr will have Aidan O'Rourke as his head coach as they take on the Donegal reins Picture: Seamus Loughran.

PADDY Carr won't have any trouble coming into the Donegal senior football team dressing room and laying down the law – so says ex-Dublin star Paddy Christie.

The former Allstar defender who, himself, has recently taken over the Longford reins, knows Carr well from the latter's time in the Bainisteoir's bib at Ballymun Kickhams.

There, the Fanad native could count on the likes of Philly McMahon, James McCarthy, Dean Rock, John Small, Paddy Small and Evan Comerford.

In his two seasons in charge at Ballymun, Carr led them to a county final and semi-final but, on both occasions, fell short to St Vincent's. During his previous stint with Kilmacud Crokes, he bossed the side to All-Ireland club glory in 2009.

Finding Declan Bonner's successor has been a protracted process. And in the 97 days after he announced that he was stepping away, a whole host of high-profile names were linked to the position.

It's understood that Jim McGuinness, Martin McHugh, Karl Lacey, Sean Paul Barrett and Rory Kavanagh all had dialogue, of some description or another, with the people tasked with appointing the new boss.

There was, the Irish News believes, some degree of frustration and criticism at Monday night's specially convened meeting of County Committee in Convoy, which was held 'in camera'.

Grievances, centring on the lack of transparency of the process, the duration of that hunt and the 'big fish' that seemingly got away from those efforts, were all aired.

In the end, though Carr, on a two-year term with a review after one year, was the deal that got rubber-stamped. Armagh’s 2002 All-Ireland winner Aidan O’Rourke, who is currently employed as Performance Sport Manager in Queen’s University in Belfast, will act as head coach.

“I coached Ballymun one of the seasons Paddy was in as manager,” said Christie. “He has serious experience and he's also a seriously decent fella. And that's a very potent mix when it comes to a dressing room. Kilmacud and Ballymun would be two of the strongest clubs in the country.

“And Paddy left very positive impressions on and off the field at both. Both those sides, as well as the Dublin lads, would have had other high profile players transferring in from different parts of the country also. He'll be going back to Donegal with a real desire and ambition to do well.

“I see he's also retired now from his role as principal (Colaiste na Mí in Navan). And that will mean he doesn't have that extra pressure with school. Because he would have had a seriously heavy workload there as well. And I know from trying to manage that juggle myself, there is always the danger of falling between two stools.

“You're always conscious of that - that you don't want to end up doing an average job on both sides there. So the fact that Paddy can go up there now, be based out of the county and give it absolutely everything he has; Donegal can only benefit from that.

“That role, the range of responsibility and delegating you now need to do, it's gone to a completely new level. And that's why you need to have good people in beside you. He has Aidan O'Rourke in and I read one or two others will also be joining. So he'll have the extra help in that regard as well.”

Christie, who bossed UCD to Sigerson Cup glory back in 2020, has a very good knowledge of the Donegal playing personnel from his time working with and against some of Tír Chonaill's best young talent in that competition.

“On a personal level, I really hope it works out for Paddy. And even for Donegal because I've always had a soft spot for them. As DCU Sigerson boss for the last four years, I've had so many of those boys through the door. And every single one of them was an absolute joy.

“As well as that, they were more often than not our best players. They were so diligent in their approach, preparation and application. Brendan McCole, Conor Morrision, Shane O'Donnell and Oisin Gallen… they were all to the fore in the last few seasons. Oisin had some injury issues at the time but boy, if they can get him back and fully fit, that's a serious addition that would grace any side in the country.

“There are no guarantees in sport. But I genuinely believe Paddy is going into a set-up and a group of players where he has so much potential and talent to work with. There is a platform there and the raw materials are certainly there.”