New Louth boss vows to start with a clean slate
NEW Louth boss Wayne Kierans ans has vowed to start with a clean an slate as he embarks on the process of putting together his first senior panel.
Working as a selector under Pete McGrath, Kierans saw first-hand the personnel el problems the Down man n encountered, with some players - not making themselves s available from the outset and d others opting off the panel nel during the Reds’ ill-fated Division sion 2 and Championship campaigns. aigns.
After a drawn out selection ction process Kierans will have to hit the ground running to get a panel together in time for the O’Byrne Cup, which has been brought forward to December 9th this season.
‘We don’t want the same turnover of players next season,’ he conceded. ‘It was a very difficult situation someone coming in not knowing the players and I think I’ll have an advantage there, knowing all the players and the guys that are at the required level for inter-county. So yeah, the first step will be to assess players and if anyone exiled themselves we’ll certainly be talking to them and seeing what their plans are.’
Speaking of exiles, Kierans could receive a welcome early boost to his tenure with the news that Ciaran Byrne is seriously considering making his current spell home a more permanent one.
The St Mochta’s clubman featured in his side’s IFC semi-final win over Mattock Rangers last week and he’ll be lining out again in the decider this Sunday in The Grove.
He’s still contracted to Aussie Rules side Carlton, but it’s understood he’s open to the idea of calling time on his AFL career.
But while it’ll be a case of wait and see for Kierans on that front, he’s raring to get his teeth into his new role.
‘It was a great feeling to get the news,’ he said. ‘I made no secret of the fact that I wanted the job, so when it was all sorted out it was a great feeling and a proud moment for my family and my club.’
Kierans admitted 2018 was a trying campaign, but he’s determined to learn from it.
‘The experience of being involved this year will be very important going forward and it was a difficult year. It was good to be involved regardless of whether it was a good year or a bad year.
‘It didn’t work out obviously for Pete, but it’s going to be great experience for me. It was a learning process and it’s different things like the intensity of the league schedule and level required in Division 2 and even the travelling.
‘For me it probably didn’t teach me that much about the game, but it’s the little things around being involved in a national league and the time-frames, I got an awful lot out of that.’
While December is an early start, Kierans says everything will be geared towards being ready for the National League at the end of January.
‘We’ll get a body of training in, but the O’Byrne Cup is really just preparation for the National League. That’s not to discredit the O’Byrne Cup, that’s just what it is. The caveat is that we’ll be in Leinster Club Championship territory in terms of the Blues or the Mairtins, Mochta’s or Fechin’s and Young Irelands, so that will be something to consider.
‘But that will also open a door to try out new players too so I’m not too worried it. Our main focus is January 27th and the league, so the O’Byrne Cup will just give us some competitive action before then.’
As a former minor and U20 manager and senior selector, Kierans should have a good handle on the depth of talent at his disposal and he say he won’t be afraid to give youth a fling.
‘Without a doubt there are lads who can step up over the next two years. I can only say positive words about the players coming through. The challenge is bringing them through and bridging the gap between 17/18 to U20 to the senior team, it’s a delicate enough process. We have to make sure we get them in at the right time, but there aare talented lads coming througthrough? There’s no doubt or questioquestion about that.
‘TThere will be a number of thethem involved to get them coconditioned physically and mentally for the step up and ththat will be part of constructing inconstructing the panel, in terms of wwho’s ready and who might hhave to wait.’
As he waited to hear the gogood news, the new boss coucouldn’t resist a quick peak at LouthLouth’s National League opponents nentsopponents aand he’s under no illusions as to ththe task at hand.
‘TheThere’s no gimmes in it, that’s a certacertainty. You have Carlow and Laois coming up and they’d be considered two of the strongest teams in the division. Down came down with us and you have localgames against the likes of Westmeath, so it’s a tough league. But we feel we’ll be ready and we’ll see what happens.’
In terms of the style of football supporters can expect to see, Kierans insists it’s all about balance.
‘I wouldn’t advocate being overly defensive or open, it’s all about the balance and taking the right approach at different times of different games.
‘We certainly will want to attack and get numbers forward, but we’ll mind the house as well and it’s all about striking that balance. There’s a lot of effort goes into that and of all the buzz words in coaching ‘transitioning’ is one of the key ones for me because there are transitions every couple of seconds and my training would be heavily based on transitional stuff and I really enjoy coaching it.
‘It’s something we didn’t maybe have a lot of last year so it’s something to improve upon.’
Kierans has so far appointed two selectors with former Down All-Ireland winner Cathal Murray joining Dreadnots clubman Liam Kelleher, but he may add one more name his backroom team.
‘Cathal is a very experienced man, not just at inter-county level but at schools level too with St Colman’s in Newry, so I’m delighted to have Cathal on board. Liam was a no-brainer for me, I’ve worked with him for the last couple of years and there’s a lot of trust built up and he knows every ball that’s kicked at every level in the county, he has huge knowledge of the players.
‘We will possibly be bringing in one more, so the management teams has shaped up well and I’m very happy with it,’ he added.