The search begins
Committee in place to find new Wicklow football boss
WICKLOW GAA are planning to have a new Senior football manager in place by the quarter-final stages of the club championship following the stepping down of John Evans from the position last week.
A new committee has been put in place to select the best person for the job. The committee includes some of those who recommended John Evans for the role two years ago and work begins immediately on finding the candidate who will give Wicklow the best chance of escaping from Division 4 and giving supporters some hope of a brighter future.
‘The committee will be: Fintan Fanning, chairman, Alan Smullen, secretary, Darren Hayden, players rep, Paddy Dalton, Ciaran Hylan, Con Murphy, and Jimmy Whittle,’ revealed County Chairman Martin Fitzgerald at Monday night’s County Board meeting.
Rathnew’s Bobby Dignam asked when John Evans had decided to step down or had he been removed from his position by the Wicklow County Board.
‘He stepped down. We spoke to him on the phone last Tuesday night and he stepped down,’ replied Martin Fitzgerald.
‘What’s your plans? You have a committee there now. I think for the last five years we’ve had outside managers who have done nothing but cost us about €100,000 a year. I’ve been going on for years that we should be looking around locally here. And a local manager would have local selectors and we might have as good a chance as we’ve had with the previous.
‘I thought when Evans came in, with his CV, I thought it was good, but what turned me off was the Cavan match, when we turned out in Aughrim with 15 men behind the ball. As far as I’m concerned, he hadn’t got it.
‘He was also in charge of the under-20s and I believe that was a disaster. He didn’t turn up to some training sessions. We should really look at the under-20s being separated unless the incoming men who are put there are prepared to take it on. I would suggest that we should look local,’ added Dignam.
Martin Fitzgerald said that the committee were under instruction that if the applications of the role were not what they desired then they were to go seek any candidates they identify as suitable individuals for the role.
Bobby Dignam asked if the County Board were advertising the role. Alan Smullen said that there is a robust framework for appointing a new manager that comes from Croke Park. He explained that an email would be sent to all clubs for clubs to nominate any names.
Smullen said that there are people who have already contacted them in relation to the role and that other candidates can be pursued if required.
The county treasurer then explained the steps of the process of appointing the manager such as interviews to appoint what Smullen described as ‘the best possible person for the job’.
‘The report will be sent back to management with a proposal from that committee,’ said Alan Smullen. ‘All clubs will have the chance to nominate people. My number is there and Fintan’s number is there as well.
‘Ideally we want that person in place as early as possible. Realistically, if that person was in place by the quarter-finals that would be fantastic. It may be tight. I know the next couple of weeks will probably go by very quickly when the nominations come int, then it’s about sitting down, meeting people and making schedules,’ he said.
Victor O’Shaughnessy asked how the committee were going to pick a manager. He asked if the clubs could be sent out the information as to what questions the committee would be asking the candidates and what criteria they would be using to select a manager.
Alan Smullen informed the Avondale delegate that the committee would be evaluating the candidates on probably nine different areas.
We’ll be looking at experience, organisation skills, coaching knowledge, interpersonal skills, leadership/motivational skills, playing knowledge or experience (if it is there), their support personnel – will they be bringing in a team with them, have they already got a structure behind them or will they be looking for nominations from around the county.
‘The relationship with the clubs and the county committee, we’ll be looking for evidence of that being in place previously, because I think that’s really, really important, and then knowledge of the county – I’m not saying that’s a prerequisite, but obviously it would help.
‘And then one of the key ones for me: communication skills, and their ability to communicate with the group of people that they want to prepare to peak at the right possible time in the season,’ said Alan Smullen.
Victor O’Shaughnessy then asked if clubs could be given a blueprint in terms of how much the hurling and football managers will cost the county.
Alan Smullen said that the costs of managers is published in the accounts at the end of the year. He also said that there were limits as to what information he was permitted to release about individuals such as physios or nutritionists for professional services but that he would be happy to answer any questions at Convention at the end of the year.
‘It’s in the accounts at Convention, what it costs,’ added Martin Fitzgerald.
‘It’s all in the detail, Mr Chairman, isn’t that what you’re saying?’ replied Victor O’Shaughnessy.
Jackie Napier said that it was impossible to say what a county team would cost at the start of the year given the variables such as travel and he highlighted the fact that the Wicklow hurlers had to travel to Derry and Donegal four times in all, and Warwickshire in 2019.
Alan Smullen agreed that it was impossible to gauge, and he said that the question asked by Victor needed to be turned on its head.
‘You know what, Victor, I would love nothing more than to spend more money on our footballers and hurlers because that would mean that we would be going further in the championships. And I guarantee you that there’s not one person, maybe not, sitting around that if we got to a Leinster semi-final or final, would anyone here be questioning why we were paying extra for a physio to get the lads right? I don’t think so.
So, in my opinion, the question needs to be turned right around on its head.
‘How many people in this room are going to buy a table at Punchestown next year, how many people are going to support the golf classic on the 30th of August, because, lads, we can talk about football and hurling all we want, but if we’re not willing to invest in getting absolutely everything we possibly can, from under-13 up to Seniors, we are going nowhere. And talking about what the cost of a certain team is, absolutely I take your point, but it’s only one small bit in the overall thing of getting our teams right.
‘It’s interesting that Jackie (Napier) makes the point of away games – that’s nothing to do with the manager. I’m not asking about that. I’m asking about the manager and the selectors and people like that,’ added Jackie Napier.
One delegate said that the committee would have to put goals in place for the new manager.
‘I don’t think it’s good enough anymore to put a manager in place and for us to drift through Division 4.
‘We have to have ambition here. With our Minor teams coming up and all the youth coming up, they’re just going to go to waste if we’re not going to push them forward to reach their potential. So, I think when you’re picking the manager you have to pick someone with a track record, who knows how to bring the team forward, you have to raise funds for the team,’ they said.
Alan Smullen said that they had met with both Eamonn Scallan and John Evans and that the need for progress was expressed to both men.
Another delegate asked if there was any news on the Minor manager. Martin Fitzgerald said that there was no news on that position.
Fitzgerald also thanked John Evans for his services and wished him well for the future.
Former Wicklow manager John Evans during his time with the Garden County.