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30th Aug 2023

Derry are taking their time selecting a new manager, but three names stand out

Lee Costello


The Derry job is the biggest one available in football right now.

Derry are the biggest county in the country right now that still have not appointed a manager, and it’s more important than ever that they pick the right person.

The Oakleaf county are still manager-less following the resignation of Rory Gallagher, and even though Ciaran Meenagh stayed on  for the remainder of the season, there has been no been no news on giving him, or anyone else the job permanently.

Derry are on the crest of a wave, and this will be the first time in over two decades where they are hiring someone to take them from being an elite team, to the number one team.

All recent appointments have been made on the idea that a re-build was needed, and to try and find some sort of an identity as a team to get the best out of their gifted footballers, and break into that top table.

All of that has been done as they climbed through the four divisions, won back to back Ulster titles and made it to the last four of the All-Ireland series in consecutive years.

They are not rebranding, rebuilding, or rejuvenating anything anymore, they are already there, they just need to take that last, but most difficult step, to win the Sam Maguire.


Age is also on their side if you look at the fact that their two main stars, Conor Glass and Shane McGuigan are only 25/26, while key players like Gareth McKinless, Brendan Rogers, and Niall Loughlin are still in their twenties.

Then you have young talent like Conor McKluskey, Eoin McEvoy, and Lachlan Murray, who aren’t even near their peak years yet, combined with the fact that two different All-Ireland winning minor teams are coming through, and the future looks like it can’t be anything but successful.

However, good players and youthful exuberance isn’t enough to win All-Irelands, they need a leader, a guiding force to push them in the right direction, make the tough calls, and bond these players even more than they have done.

There are a list of potential candidates out there, but three in particular have all of the weapons in their arsenal to do the job successfully.

Ciaran Meenagh


If something isn’t broke, then don’t fix it. Meenagh did an incredible job when he was thrust into the spotlight last season and kept the team together, guiding them to the brink of an All-Ireland final.

The Tyrone native admitted that he didn’t want to change too much, and that he does have ideas of his own but in the middle of the campaign wasn’t the time to implement them, so he could be the prefect candidate to transition this team seamlessly from one ideology to a slightly different one, if it’s what he thought was needed to win the All-Ireland.

However, you imagine this is a decision that would have been made, packaged, signed, and delivered by now, so it looks unlikely that he will be at the helm next season.

Malachy O’Rourke


A man with all of the necessary credentials, having guided Monaghan to Ulster titles at inter-county level, he is currently the manager of Watty Graham’s Glen in county Derry, and spearheaded them all the way to the All-Ireland club final last season.

The gifted manager is still in charge of the club, and it could be possible that the reason there is such a delay in the selection process is because they are waiting until the Derry championship is over, allowing O’Rourke to focus entirely on Glen’s season, before appointing him.

However, with two Derry titles under his belt already, and the fact that they are the reigning Ulster champions they are the hot favourites to win the championship once again, which means that their season could drag through the winter in the provincial series, and potentially even the new year if they were to reach the last four again.

Paddy Bradley


Probably the most unlikely to be selected, but Bradley has earned his stripes with an impressive turnaround of Donegal’s fortunes this season.

The former Derry star was in a similar situation as Ciaran Meenagh, as he was thrust into the job mid-season, following the resignation of Paddy Carr.

However, unlike Meenagh, he wasn’t taking over a team of winners, but a group of players in disarray as the injury list had piled up, off-field problems were rife with the county board, and they had just been relegated from Division One.

Incredibly he and Aidan O’Rourke did manage to galvanise the squad, get a run of wins together, and qualify for the knockout stages, when no one thought they would have.

The Glenullin native also had success managing his club to an Intermediate championship in recent years, and with his reputation as one of the finest forwards that Derry has ever produced, he could be a left-field option that the county board are considering.

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