New Reds boss to start with a clean slate

IN­TER-COUNTY

The Argus - - SPORT - JOHN SAV­AGE Seb Daly/SPORTS­FILE

NEW Louth boss Wayne Kier­ans has vowed to start with a clean slate as he em­barks on the process of putting to­gether his first se­nior panel.

Work­ing as a se­lec­tor un­der Pete McGrath, Kier­ans saw first­hand the per­son­nel prob­lems the Down man en­coun­tered, with some play­ers not mak­ing them­selves avail­able from the out­set and oth­ers opt­ing off the panel dur­ing the Reds’ ill-fated Divi­sion 2 and Cham­pi­onship cam­paigns.

Af­ter a drawn out se­lec­tion 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 LOUTH In­ter­me­di­ate out­fit St Kevin’s will re­place one for­mer in­ter-county boss with an­other next sea­son af­ter ap­point­ing Colin Kelly on Sun­day night.

The mid-Louth out­fit have pulled off a ma­jor coup for the sec­ond year run­ning hav­ing ap­pointed for­mer Dublin star Johnny Magee this time last year.

Kelly de­parted the West­meath hot­seat af­ter just one sea­son in June and was linked to a re­turn to the Louth job prior to Wayne Kier­ans’ ap­point­ment.

Else­where one of Kelly’s for­mer team­mates, Colm Nally has joined Andy McEn­tee’s Meath back­room team as a coach.

The for­mer Reds’ goal­keeper was also linked to the Louth job when Pete McGrath de­parted and will leave Castle­knock af­ter one sea­son in Dublin. 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 are tal­ented lads com­ing through? There’s no doubt or ques­tion about that.

‘There will be a num­ber of them in­volved to get them con­di­tioned phys­i­cally and men­tally for the step up and that will be part of con­struct­ing the panel, in terms of who’s ready and who might have to wait.’

As he waited to hear the good news, the new boss couldn’t re­sist a quick peak at Louth’s Na­tional League op­po­nents and he’s un­der no il­lu­sions as to the task at hand.

‘There’s no gimmes in it, that’s a cer­tainty. 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 lo­cal-ish games 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.

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