In an era where the workload on clubs and their personnel has never felt higher, it is surprising to find Martin Regan with such zest.
Regan is Donegal football’s longest serving manager now as he gets set for a fifth year in charge of Naomh Conaill.
Management certainly is no chore for Regan, Naomh Conaill’s 2015 Donegal SFC-winning manager. The Glenties side have hit the crossbar in the last two years, reaching successive finals, but losing to Kilcar and Gaoth Dobhair.
The lifespan of club managers is short right now. Over half of Donegal’s 39 clubs will be under new managers this year. Almost 60 per cent of clubs will have a new man in the Bainisteoir bib this weekend when the All-County Football Leagues swing into action.
Regan counts himself one of the lucky ones.
“Time is the big one for me,” the St Columba’s Comprehensive School teacher says.
“It suits me because I live in Glenties and I’m teaching. I finish most evenings by around half-past four. I have evenings off.
“The workload has definitely increased from the previous time I had the job briefly.”
Last year, Mervyn O’Donnell, the Gaoth Dobhair manager, outlined how he learned to delegate from 2017 to 2018. He increased his backroom staff and it reaped rewards with a number of key additions, not least the recruitment of Termon’s Michael Boyle as the trainer.
It is a notion that Regan very much subscribes to.
Regan has Michael McLaughlin and Shay Murrin commuting from Derry; Damien McElroy has been working on strength and conditioning; Mickey O’Donnell, David Gallagher and Brian McGuigan are aboard the backroom staff; Regan will have a new goalkeeping coach; Dr Charlie McManus and physios Hugh Breslin and Emma Boyle look after the team’s medical needs.
On top of that, there are four people doing stats during games.
“You have to be a good delegator and you need to trust people, too,” Regan says.
‘When I started off, there wasn’t near as much work on video analysis. That has gone through the roof, analysis of your own team and also opposition analysis.
“Other clubs were doing it when I came in for the 2015 year and we were just doing bits.
“Michael and Shay coming in last year really took the pressure off. Shay does an awful lot of the video work and that is a job you just can’t short-circuit.
“Trust is the big thing here, so we’ll never be going over each other’s work.
“The workload has increased, but not really on me. The workload on the management team has increased.
“For me, it’s much easier because I’m not commuting. If we’re training, I’m away at 20 past six and home around nine o’clock. Michael and Shay are maybe away from half-past four and aren’t home until well after 10.
“I really enjoy it. We have a great bunch of footballers and a great bunch of men in Glenties. I wouldn’t have the same motivation to manage another club or a county. I enjoy going down to the field to the boys as much as taking a football team.”
After leading Naomh Conaill to Dr Maguire four years ago, Regan indicated that he was stepping down before being talked around.
Regan knows, after two successive final defeats, that the parish is craving another slice of the glory again.
“There is pressure too, of course,” he says. “Depending on what club you’re at, the pressure will take on different formats.
“We haven’t won a Championship in four years now. You know there are other people looking in and thinking: ‘I could do a better job’. I feel maybe we have to deliver a Championship to really deserve the job.”
Regan will be working off much the same panel as in 2018, though youngsters Nathan Byrne and Sean Roarty can be expected to push hard for inclusion.
“We won’t be an awful lot different,” Regan says. “We won’t change much, but we do have to look at our style of play. We have to improve because we were well beaten by Gaoth Dobhair in the final.
“We need more scores, but at least we’re aware of that now. Defensively, we thought we were solid enough, but we still conceded 17 points in the final.”
Regan is somewhat concerned that the demands on club players has gone through the ceiling.
“Some players feel it’s too much now and it’s gone almost to county level,” he says.
“I can see the thoughts from both sides. Of course, there’s the argument about having as good a set up and having things as professional as you can.
“But what players who think: ‘That’s not for me’? Maybe players have stepped back from county because the going is too tough – if it’s the same at club level, what then?”Tags: