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New faces at the helm in Armagh, Laois and Leitrim ahead of 2020 season

The Orchard county become the latest to appoint new management, while former underage prodigy Donie Brennan takes over in Laois.

ARMAGH HAVE BECOME the latest ladies football side to confirm their new management for the 2020 season. 

the-armagh-panel The Armagh panel last April. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Tyrone man Ronan Murphy and St Paul’s Lurgan’s Tommy Stevenson will take the reins in the Orchard county after Fionnuala McAtamney and Lorraine McCaffrey stepped down in the wake of their All-Ireland championship exit.

Armagh were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Mayo, but had a successful season overall. In the All-Ireland group stages, they stunned Ephie Fitzgerald’s Cork with a shock one-point win, though it’s back to the drawing board now after back-to-back championship quarter-final exits.

The duo tasked with bringing them forward now is a mix of familiarity and the unknown. Described as a “top trainer” by Armagh LGFA, Stevenson was previously part of the management ticket in 2008 while Edendork’s Murphy comes as a newer name in Orchard circles.

A former minor and U21 star for the Red Hand and a St Mary’s Belfast Sigerson Cup player, Murphy steered Ballyhegan’s men’s side to Armagh Junior Championship success in 2017 while he has also managed, and had success at Tyrone sides Eglish, Killeeshil and Lissan.

This comes as his first formal management role in ladies football. Stevenson, meanwhile, was joint Armagh manager in 2008 as they reached the Division 1 semi-final. Now, the renowned strength and conditioning coach runs Armagh City Hotel’s Health and Fitness club.

“I’m delighted to have a strong senior county management team for next season in place by mid-October, and warmly welcome Ronan and Tommy to their positions and look forward to working with them in the time ahead,” chairperson Sinéad Reel said in a lengthy statement.

“Since becoming county chairperson two years ago, I have worked tirelessly with the support of my excellent committee to take Armagh ladies football forward with ambition and hard work and ensure everything is the best it can.”

Elsewhere, there’s an interesting appointment in Laois with former county star Donie Brennan taking over the ladies football side.

donie-brennan-42006 Laois underage prodigy Donie Brennan takes the reins of the county's ladies footballers. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

The Arles-Killeen clubman replaces Kildare native David Gleeson in the role as he looks to reverse the county’s fortunes. Once a force to be reckoned with, Laois now operate at intermediate level and were relegated to Division 3 of the league after failing to win a single game lat season. 

Underage prodigy Brennan was handed his Laois senior debut by Mick O’Dwyer at just 18 while still a minor in the 2004 Leinster final replay against Westmeath, and is currently a Games Development Administrator for Laois GAA.

Tyrone native Hugh Donnelly will take charge of Leitrim after being ratified at a county board meeting earlier this week.

Donnelly, who previously worked with his native county along with Ulster sides Donegal and Cavan, succeeds Danny Clarke, who was in interim charge for most of this year.

Clarke guided Leitrim to victory in a relegation play-off, which in turn, saw the county retain their intermediate status for 2020, while competing in Division 4 of the league.

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Emma Duffy

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