There’s an all-Ireland feel to the new Louth management team, and it has only a little to do with the five compromising it coming from four different counties.
Manager Aidan O’Rourke and his brother, Martin, are from Armagh and Bernie Murray is Monaghan-born; Mike McGurn hails from Fermanagh and waving the flag for the Wee County is Gerry Reynolds.
Murray, Reynolds and Martin O’Rourke will, primarily, act as selectors, with McGurn bringing his vast experience as a fitness and strengthening coach along to Darver training sessions.
It’s a formidable team, but one that hasn’t met with widespread approval. The disgruntled have no real complaints with the man who’s at the top - how could they? But, wearing their parochial hats, they fear his assistants are not best placed to winkle out the players needed to complement the hardcore certain to be carried over from this year.
They shouldn’t be concerned. If, as is likely, the regional competition due to be played soon gets a better response than in other years, the management team can do some scanning, having since taking office, no doubt, received several representations.
No, expect the panel from which the team to face regular recent-year foes, Westmeath, in the opening round of Division Two of the National League early next February to be as strong as the county can offer.
But if after that, when club football begins, some young player blossoms, or a former candidate finds form, it’s unlikely they’ll be faced by a ‘shop closed’ , or, for that matter, the ‘closed shop’ sign.
Back to the All-Ireland bit. Aidan O’Rourke won football’s highest honour in 2002, while Mike McGurn has traversed the country, bringing with him his expertise in getting footballers and others into perfect condition for the stiffest of tasks.
Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara are only some of those from the world of rugby who have benefited, while Bernard Dunne had McGurn in his corner, as it were, when the little Dublin bantamweight was conquering the world.
Bernie Murray won the next best thing to a Celtic Cross; in 1985 he was on the Monaghan team, along with former Louth manager, Eamon McEneaney, that won the National League. When his playing career was drawing to a close, he lined out for the 1997 Louth Championship-winning Stabannon Parnells team, and had Gerry Reynolds – claiming his third medal – as a colleague.
Reynolds’ family is part of Louth’s All-Ireland lore. His father. Brian, was a selector for the 1957 win, while his sister, Cathy, captained the the ladies team that won the 1998 All-Ireland junior final, beating Roscommon at Croke Park. An uncle, Mickey Reynolds, lined out against Mayo in the 1950 All-Ireland final.