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'He can lose the rag the odd time': Mannion on Dolan's move to management

Karol Mannion and Frankie Dolan have enjoyed plenty of good days on the field together.

KAROL MANNION AND Frankie Dolan go way back.

The duo have been teammates for well over a decade with both St Brigid’s and Roscommon.

AIB GAA Senior Football Club Championship Finals Media Day Karol Mannion was speaking at the AIB GAA Senior Football Club Championship Finals Media Day. Source: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

They’ve won county, provincial and All-Ireland honours on the field together during the most glorious period of the club’s history.

That relationship changed somewhat when Dolan was appointed manager of the Kiltoom club at the start of 2016.

Four years on from their last Connacht title, Dolan has overseen a period of transition with a number of the 2013 All-Ireland winning side replaced by talented youngsters who’ve impressed at underage level.

Mannion, almost three years on from his inter-county retirement, remains a key cog in the Brigid’s team.

Despite Dolan’s switch from player to player-manager, Mannion assures us it’s still the same old Frankie.

“He can lose the rag the odd time, no more than when he was playing,” Mannion says.

“It’s obviously his first serious management job, he’s been involved as a selector with the county U21s for a couple of years, so he has had some exposure.

“I think it’s been a learning exercise for him. I definitely know that through the year he has adopted to it.  He hasn’t been a closed shop, in that he has his way of managing and he sticks to it.

“He has been very good to speak to the older guys in the team and to take some lead from us. You can see that our performances have improved toward the end of the year as well.”

Brigid’s saw their six-in-a-row hopes in Roscommon go up in flames last year when they were dumped out in the semi-final by Clann na nGael.

Dolan played in that defeat and once he took over as manager, he recognised the need for Brigid’s to look to the future.

“In fairness to Frankie, this year since he he has come in as manager, he’s possibly seen (the decline) and realised that for a team to come back and replenish itself with more energy, that we had to change it up a bit.

Frankie Dolan celebrates with the trophy Frankie Dolan celebrates with the Andy Merrigan Cup in 2013. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Frankie made some decisions during the year with certain players, put heat on a lot of the older lads that we can’t keep going the way we’re going, or we’re not even going to get out of Roscommon anymore.

“He brought in some younger lads who have proven that they are good enough to start in the team. There’s two lads in the half-forward line, Conor Murray and Brian Stack, who are good enough to start. Some of the senior lads who have started All-Ireland have lost their place.

“That kind of move by Frankie has been well received in one way because players with ambition who want to win understand if they lose their place to a better younger lad.

“I know one lad especially, Niall Grehan, who was the man that intercepted the ball for Frankie’s winner in the All-Ireland, lost his place this year, but Niall is such a good club man.

“He is happy as anyone to see them (younger players) come into the tea. Unfortunately he has lost his position, but thankfully there is that maturity and honesty in Brigid’s that young fellas can come in and demote some of the older lads.”

Brigid’s face Corofin in tomorrow’s Connacht SFC club final. They’ve beaten the Galway champions in the provincial decider twice before in 2006 and 2011.

In that famous game 10 years ago, Brigid’s were trailing with seconds remaining when Dolan started a move that culminated with Mannion curling in a glorious goal to snatch the cup out of Corofin’s hands.

Source: MuscularChristianity/YouTube

Despite those two victories, Mannion isn’t surprised the Galway powerhouses are favourites.

“I suppose you can’t really say the All-Ireland winning team of 2013 with St Brigid’s will be playing Sunday,” he says. “From what the team might line up as, you might only have seven starting. The last day we played Corofin we might have only have had eight starting. It is a different team when you talk about getting to this level.

“Possibly within Roscommon people will see it as the same team, but outside we still are a relatively new team. Our success at All-Ireland level was a lot further back than Corofin.

“Corofin, now, have had a year off and generally speaking in the first couple of years after you win the All-Ireland, the momentum and the bunch of players sticking together will be enough to get you back to that level.

“We’re not back at that level yet, while Corofin are. That’s why we’re not as fancied, I can see why. We have to prove the next day that we’re at that level.”

Dolan won’t play any part in Carrick-on-Shannon, as he had his appendix out recently, while Ian Kilbride is overseas with the Defence Forces.

Doubts linger around Darren Dolan and Cathal McHugh, but Garvan Dolan is available to play after serving a suspension.

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Kevin O'Brien

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