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05th Aug 2023

The top five managers of the Gaelic football season 2023

Lee Costello


Top gaffers here.

There’s a lot of back and forth about who should get Player of the Year, but these great players would be nowhere without great managers, so here is our top five from the 2023 season.

Going into the campaign you had a lot of famous people at the helm, some ex-legends like Glen Ryan at Kildare, Brian Dooher with Tyrone or Colm O’Rourke with Meath, while other counties went outside of their native land.

Andy McEntee made the trip from Meath to Antrim, while Óisin McConville took charge of Wicklow for his first year at inter-county management.

5. Mickey Harte


Mickey Harte went to Louth with an already immortal legacy attached to his name, but the Tyrone hero proved that he has that touch of magic anywhere he goes.

After back to back promotions in his first two years in charge, Louth were mixing it with some of the biggest names in football in the second division, with the likes of Dublin, Derry, Cork and Kildare all looking to get promoted.

Not held back by the fact that this was the first taste of Division Two football for a lot of these players, they managed to finish third, just behind the two front runners Dublin and Derry, and rack up some famous victories.

In the Leinster championship they looked dead and buried against reigning tailteann Cup champions Westmeath, when but they pulled of an incredible comeback to steal the win.

Then in extra time, and arguably the game of the season, Louth beat Offaly in a shoot-out to secure their place in the final against Dublin.

Of course Dublin won that formality, and Louth were put into the group of death, with Kerry, Mayo and Cork, they really put it up to The Rebels, very nearly beat Kevin McStay’s team and had just ran out of steam when it came to facing the reigning All-Ireland champions.

Overall a very successful season that leaves Louth in great standing for next year.

4. Tony McEntee


The Armagh hero has really found a tune with the Sligo boys as they won Division Four to secure promotion, and even beat his old friend McConville who was on the other line as Wicklow manager.

In the Connacht championship they reached the final, losing out to Galway, but also guaranteeing their place in the All-Ireland series rather than the Tailteann cup.

It probably came a bit early for them as a Division Four side was unlikely to trouble the top teams, and ultimately they were up against the juggernauts like Dublin who went on to win the whole thing.

However, the extra games from the new format and the series of wins in the league and provincial championship will bring this group on so much, and was fantastically managed by McEntee.

3. Jack O’Connor


Dublin’s six-in-a-row team have clouded the fact that it’s so difficult to win All-Irelands back to back, with the last team to do it before Jim Gavin’s winning machine came along was in fact Kerry back in the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

O’Connor was in charge in that ’06 campaign, and he used all of his experience and guile to get The Kingdom clicking at just right time of the year.

A relatively flat league campiagn, and then cruising through munster was followed by a heavy defeat to Mayo, but the Kerry legend had them well primed for when it mattered most and they pulled off an incredible performance against Tyrone, and grinned through a hugely difficult Derry test.

In the final itself people seem to forget that there was only two points in it, it was by no means a one-sided affair, and if just a couple things had of went their way, then O’Connor could be sitting with another All-Ireland in his pocket.

2. Dessie Farrell


Few managers have faced the criticism that Dessie Farrell has had to endure in the past two years. Taking over Jim Gvain’s legendary team was aways going to be a challenge and people seem to forget that he already guided them to the Sam Maguire in his first year.

The following two years saw an exodus of key players leaving, however, they were beat in the semi-finals in those two years by a single point, hardly a million miles away.

This season he regrouped, got the gang back together by bringing back Paul Mannion, Jack McCaffrey, Stephen Cluxton, and even had the humility to bring Pat Gilroy into the backroom team.

Farrell was at the helm for all of this, and can sit back with great satisfaction as Dublin reclaim their sweetest All-Ireland in a long time.

1. Vinny Corey


It’s important to remember that nobody wanted the Monaghan job after last season, and when Corey was announced, fans, pundits and media didn’t really think too much of it, or have too much expectations.

However, Corey has proven to be a brilliant boss, a fantastic tactician, man manager, and yet make ruthless decisions when he needs to.

Once again they avoided relegation from Division One right at the death, and then pulled off a brilliant victory against Tyrone in the opening round of the ulster championship.

After they were badly beaten by Derry, they had to meet them again in the group stages, but this time Corey dropped his two star names Conor McManus and Jack McCarron, in order to bring more athleticism into the team and they managed to get a draw.

They beat Kildare in the preliminary quarter final by a single point, thanks to Conor McCarthy, who was moved to half-back and found a new lease of life there.

In the quarter finals they were the underdogs against Armagh, but they frustrated the Orchard county and won by penalties to book their place in the semi-finals.

Against Dublin, Corey made the bold choice to start and play 35-year-old McManus for the whole match, and it was working brilliantly as they pushed the eventual champions right to the line.

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