AFTER WINNING THE Donegal senior football championship with St Eunan’s in 2014, Maxi Curran’s post-match interviews painted a picture of a new canvas in club football.
St Eunan’s overcame Glenswilly 0-9 to 0-6 to win Dr Maguire for the 14th time and Curran’s interview revealed the depths to which mangers now go to ensure their side comes out on top.
Having the silverware was the only thing that would’ve rewarded the endeavour, the long hours in dim light watching DVDs of selves and of opposition.
Long gone are the days when Tuesday and Thursday evenings for a couple of hours at training and the same on a Sunday afternoon for a match were the heights of manager’s responsibilities.
The night previous to that 2014 final, Curran switched the lights off at 5am.
He has a young son, Kristian, who was six at the time.
“I went to bed last night at 5am doing the finishing touches to the video analysis and the presentation,” Curran told reporters after the final.
“Those are hours that nobody sees. It’s part of football nowadays and I know it’s a cliché to say that you leave no stone unturned but that’s the way it is.
“It’s the children at home that lose out. My own wee fella is six and I’d be heading away to training and he’d he saying ‘don’t be going, stay home and play with me’. That’s like a dagger through your heart.
“Winning the championship is the only thing that can make that in any way worthwhile.”
Curran took St Eunan’s back to the county final in 2015, but they were beaten by Naomh Conaill.
In the winter, Curran – who is also on Rory Gallagher’s backroom team with the Donegal senior football team – stood aside as St Eunan’s manager.
The new All-County Football League season gets off and running this weekend and it is perhaps a measure of where club football has gone that 22 of the 39 football clubs in Donegal will be under new management.
They include the county finalists of last year. David McGinley has succeeded Curran, while county champions Naomh Conaill will be under the charge of Martin Regan and Martin Doherty.
Although Regan was manager last year, it is a new partnership this year with the Glenties club managing to persuade Regan to form a joint ticket with Doherty, who had a previous spell as manager in 2012.
Regan had indicated that he was stepping down, but had a change of heart.
The Intermediate champions from last year, Bundoran, have had a changing of the guard, too, with Brian Gavigan being replaced by Willie Gormley.
Naomh Ultan won the Junior Championship in 2015 and Brendan McGready will again be at the helm this year. McGready is now the longest-serving of all the club managers in the county as he enters his fourth year in the position.
Tony Boyle (Dungloe), Liam Ward (Glenfin), Francie Martin (Naomh Colmcille) and Sean McBrearty (Letterkenny Gaels) are all in their jobs for a third successive year.
The window for managers at club level is a short one now, reflected in the fact that 56 per cent of clubs in Donegal have new managers this year.
Back in 2011, Gary McDaid and John McGinley guided Glenswilly to their first Donegal SFC title, but subsequently stepped down.
McDaid did return again in 2013 and has rejoined Michael Canning’s backroom team this year – having been a selector to Rory Gallagher in 2015.
In 2011, McDaid confirmed that he and McGinley were vacating their roles after Glenswilly lost to Latton in the Ulster quarter-final.
As McDaid spoke that October evening in Ballybofey the strains that come with managing club teams in the modern era were laid bare.
“During the summer – particularly in the build up to Championship games – John and I would spend 30 to 35 hours in the week on the football,” McDaid said.
“That’s the amount of effort you need to put into the modern game to get results. It wasn’t too bad for me as I’m a teacher and don’t have to work the summer months but it’s not good for your health.”
McDaid had shed blood sweat and tears.
“I can give no more,” he added.
It’s 19 years since Declan Bonner became a manager when he took over as Donegal senior team boss.
“I remember the morning after I got the Donegal job in ‘97 I got a call from the MD of the company I work for. ‘Will this work with you doing both?’ he asked me,” remembered Bonner, now the Donegal Under-21 manager and also working with St Michael’s.
“It’s more difficult now because it has become so demanding, so time consuming – even at club level. In some cases, especially at club level.”Tags: