Cooley turn to Banty for remainder of Championship

COOLEY Kickhams have drafted in Meath manager Seamus McEnaney as an assistant coach for the remainder of their Championship campaign.

COOLEY Kickhams have drafted in Meath manager Seamus McEnaney as an assistant coach for the remainder of their Championship campaign.

After losing to St Patrick’s on a scoreline of 2-11 to 1-7 in the opening Championship Group One game, Cooley boss Declan Smyth stood down after the team had failed to reach the performances they had shown last year.

With expectation always high in the Peninsula, the Cooley board were looking to bring in a big name to assist joint-managers Ciaran Traynor and David Thornton, who took over from Smyth.

On Sunday, McEnaney – or ‘Banty’ which he is more commonly known - was in attendance as he assisted Cooley in their match against St Brides, which the Kickhams won 2-17 to 2-6.

Their next match is a Championship crunch match with Naomh Malachi in two weeks time, one which Banty certainly knows is a must win game.

“Everyone knows about the height of expectation in Cooley and the wait it has been for them to win a title, but the reality for them is they have a very important group match in two weeks against the Malachis.

“In two weeks time, if they do not get something out of that match, they could be in relegation trouble and we have to wait and see how the Pat’s and the Malachis game goes at the weekend. Depending on that result, Cooley could be in big trouble with relegation, never mind winning the title. So the main aim is getting the lads focused on winning that match and then take it from there.”

McEnaney took the Meath hot-seat this year after Eamonn O’Brien was ousted as the Royals manager, just months after guiding them to their controversial Leinster Senior Championship title win over Louth in 2010.

The former Monaghan manager led Meath to the third round of the qualifiers this year – beating Louth in the first round in Breffni Park – before being dumped out by Kildare, the team who also knocked them out of the Leinster Championship in the quarter-finals.

After Smyth stood down, McEnaney, who has several friends in the Cooley vicinity, was asked about helping out with training, something he agreed to.

“I was asked to come in and give them a helping hand”, said Banty on Monday afternoon.

“I was asked by a few people and I couldn’t give them no as an answer so I have been down at a couple of training sessions. There is nothing concrete in place between me and the club as I will help out whenever I can.”

The first job for McEnaney, along with Traynor and Thornton was lifting the spirits of the players following the Pat’s game.

“They were probably feeling a bit down but they were missing some players for the match and from what I heard, they were disappointing against the Pat’s.

“But Ciaran and David are good men, they know what they are doing and I will help them out in any way I can.

“Sometimes in life, you have to help out people who are in a tight spot and that is what I am doing.”

Cooley Kickhams Chairman Andy Quinn revealed that Banty helping out the side can only lift the spirits of the players for the remainder of the season after missing out on a Cardinal O’Donnell play-off spot on score difference.

“They scored a good number of points at the weekend against the Brides and it’s good to have a man with his expertise there.

“It’s a short term thing which we all know but he is going to help us out whenever he is available.

“David and Ciaran are still in charge but he has taken a few sessions and I think the lads are happy to be working with him.”

gary@dundalkdemocrat.ie