Former Down coach Mark Doran set to be new Slaughtneil boss

Mark Doran and Jerome Johnston led Ballybay to the 2022 Monaghan title - ending a decade-long wait to get their hands on the Mick Duffy Cup. Picture by Philip Walsh
Mark Doran and Jerome Johnston led Ballybay to the 2022 Monaghan title - ending a decade-long wait to get their hands on the Mick Duffy Cup. Picture by Philip Walsh

FORMER Down coach Mark Doran is set to be unveiled as the new manager of Slaughtneil this weekend, The Irish News understands.

The Emmet’s have been on the look-out for a new manager since Paul Bradley stepped down in the wake of their comprehensive Derry final defeat to Glen – the second year in-a-row Slaughtneil had come unstuck against their neighbours with the John McLaughlin Cup up for grabs.

Glen have since gone on to land a first Ulster crown, getting the better of defending All-Ireland kingpins Kilcoo in last month’s provincial decider, and Malachy O’Rourke’s men have been widely tipped to enjoy a period of dominance in Derry as a talented squad matures and develops with time.

As a result, Slaughtneil – three time Ulster champions between 2014 and 2017 - have cast the net wide in search of the right person to lead their experienced panel back to the top.

Indeed, towards the end of last year rumours circulated that Mickey Harte would succeed Bradley, the split season allowing the three-time All-Ireland winner to combine that role with his job as Louth manager. However, such speculation proved to be unfounded.

But now it looks as though the south Derry club have finally got their man, with Doran expected to take up the reins in the coming days.

The Longstone man – an All-Ireland winning minor in 1999 and a member of the Mourne County panel that reached the 2010 All-Ireland final – cut his managerial teeth with his native club and then Castlewellan, before joining Paddy Tally's Down backroom team for two years.

This year he embellished his coaching reputation by helping Ballybay end Scotstown’s dominance in Monaghan.

Alongside joint manager Jerome Johnston sr, Doran guided the Pearse Brothers to a first county crown in a decade, bringing to an end years of near misses as they held firm to dethrone a three in-a-row chasing An Bhoth.

With the benefit of that experience, Doran is unlikely to be daunted by the prospect of trying to bring Slaughtneil back to the top of the tree in Derry while Glen remain so strong.

Once they entered the provincial arena, Ballybay secured a first-ever victory in the Ulster Championship when they upset the odds by beating Crossmaglen, only to fall short against Kilcoo at the quarter-final stage.

If Doran is named as Slaughtneil’s new manager, meanwhile, he will have to find a way to juggle the job with his commitments to Clare.

Having been asked onboard by Colm Collins at the end of last summer, Doran will enjoy his latest taste of the inter-county scene when the Banner face All-Ireland champions Kerry in Tralee on Sunday – a clash which pits him against former mentor Tally, who is part of Jack O’Connor’s management team.

Clare begin their National League campaign against Louth on Sunday, January 29, welcoming Mickey Harte’s men to Cusack Park for a crunch Division Two clash as both counties bid to hit the ground running.

The Banner take on Cork in the quarter-final of the Munster Championship on Saturday, April 8, with Limerick awaiting the winner in the last four.