James returns for a second stint at the helm of Down

James returns for a second stint at the helm of Down

1 December 2021

DOWN GAA have welcomed back former county senior football manager James McCartan to the role as Paddy Tally’s successor.

The county board decided to reappoint James as the man to lead Down in next year’s campaigns in what will be his second stint at the helm, after previously holding the reins from late 2009 to the summer of 2014.

“Whenever you’re born and bred, and brought up in the red and black, especially with the history my family has, there is a lot of things the board could ask of me that I would find difficult to say no to,” said McCartan. “I suppose it is a bit of an emotional tie there.”

The former corner forward has enjoyed many fond memories with the Mournemen, both in his playing days and his previous managerial duties, including promotion to Division One in 2010 and guiding his side to the All-Ireland final in the same year.

Now, he will turn his attention to a much different county panel in a bid to address the current situation at the club.

“With the make up of Division Two, it’s going to be a challenge to stay there but we will go out to try and win every game,” said the two time All-Star man.

“Whenever I was here before, you didn’t retain predictions of relegation or promotion, you play a couple of games firstly and you see where the team is at and take it from there.”

McCartan shared talks with previous manager Paddy Tally, who wished him well in his new role while also outlining what he observed at his time as the Mourne boss.

The returning senior manager thanked Tally for his efforts and recognised it wasn’t an easy task for the Tyrone-native in the midst of Covid-19, whilst also taking on board what he needs to help build his side back up to where they want to be.

“First things first is trying to get a panel of players together. We probably don’t have the luxury of being able to run any trials because time is short so we will have to work out where we are starting,” said McCartan.

“We will have to short circuit the trialing season and go straight to trying to get the players together, we’ll pick some sort of an extended panel,” he continued. 

“You’ve last year’s players and the U-20s ready to step up, as well as those players who are in neither of those positions and are outside of the panel, who we think can contribute.”

McCartan has wasted no time in bringing in reinforcements with the appointment of former Armagh All-Ireland winner Aidan O’Rourke as his head coach.

“James and Aidan will bring commitment, experience, a strong work ethic and a determination to change and progress,” said Down county chairman John Devaney.

“They should be afforded the patience and support of clubs and our supporters as they look to build and move us forward”.

The Down Supporters Club have also welcomed McCartan’s reappointment.