Oisin McConville. Tommy Dickson/INPHO
new boss

McConville's Wicklow aims, leaving 'the comfort zone' and going close to Mayo coaching role

‘We have to get out of Division 4 and win the Tailteann Cup,’ said the new Wicklow football manager.

NEW WICKLOW BOSS Oisin McConville has set out his stall after his appointment, with with league promotion and a Tailteann Cup title among his ambitions.

The Armagh All-Ireland winner has taken his first job in inter-county management in the Garden County.

With plenty of experience on the club circuit and at college level, McConville takes over a Wicklow side that suffered relegation from Division 3 this year.

They enjoyed a famous Leinster SFC win over Laois, before losing to Meath in the provincial quarter-final. Their interest in the Tailteann Cup was ended by Offaly in the first round. 

It was an eventful year for Wicklow as their manager Colin Kelly stepped down after four rounds of the league. He was replaced by joint-managers Gary Duffy and Alan Costello for the remainder of the year. 

“We have to get out of Division 4 and win the Tailteann Cup,” McConville told the Second Captains podcast.

“If we’re not trying to get out of Division 4 and win the Tailteann Cup, surely we’re at nothing really. That has to be the immediate goal. We’ll reassess that as we go along.”

He admitted the new championship structure made the position more attractive.

Next season’s structure will see the provincial championship ran off in between the National League and All-Ireland SFC proper. The top 16 ranked teams will go into four groups of four with the bottom 16 counties heading into the Tailteann Cup, which will also have four round robin groups. 

“I don’t think I’d have considered this job had the situation been the same as far as the structure of the championship. I don’t think it would have been anyway as attractive as it is.”

Expanding on his decision to take the role, he said: “Why Wicklow? That’s been the main question I’ve been asked. Because on the face of it a lot of people would look at it and see it as not the most glamorous.

“They would look at the player pool and a lot of things and think that’s not the correct place to start inter-county management. I disagree with that. I think there is a player pool there. I think they’ve been seriously under achieving. 

“I had a discussion with them before a number of years ago, but I just wasn’t ready for that. I didn’t think I’d garnered enough experience. I’ve done college football, club football, I’ve experience heartache and unbridled joy on certain days.

“The one that really stands to me going into this job is DKIT, I was there 10 years, and they spent most of the time in a second-tier competition. It gave me an understanding of how second tier teams are treated, a clear insight into some of those challenges. Some of them can be tackled very quickly.”

McConville has given up role as manager of the Trench Cup team in DkIT, while his three-year reign over Monaghan outfit Iniskeen will also come to a conclusion after this campaign. 

In addition, it’s likely his many media commitments will come to an end. 

“It just seems like the right time,” he said. “There’s a couple of things that have to be given up and set aside. I felt consciously in the last 12 months if not two years, that I was a little bit in the comfort zone as far as where my life was. Sitting talking about football when I have more to give.

“I really enjoyed the club stuff but to go into inter-county management is another step up. It’ll give me a good window into what I need to do in order to improve as a manager. That process is going to start in Wicklow. It may end in Wicklow, but I genuinely can’t wait to get at it. There’s a lot of improvements that can be made pretty quickly.”

Only weeks earlier he was part of Ray Dempsey’s ticket in the running for the Mayo hot seat. That was a process he was “all-in” for.

“Ray Dempsey never ever said to me that we were definitely going to get the job, but I think he felt as if he had a great chance. I loved his brutal honesty from the very first moment. About what he wanted for me and was I able to deliver that.

“I was starting to restructure my life at that stage and that was part of it. It was a very attractive proposition to be honest. I don’t know anybody who knows more about Mayo than I do, not even Mayo people.

“I’ve watched on and I’ve talked about them, I’ve seen them in every single guise that you can imagine. I’ve seen the worst of them, the best of them. It was definitely a job that was very attractive as far as I was concerned. 

“The travel was going to be a killer but it was still a very, very attractive opportunity. To get to work under somebody (like Ray) and get that experience at inter-county. There was probably a bit of comfort in it that I wasn’t the boss.”

When Dempsey was pipped by Kevin McStay for the job, McConville admitted it gave him “clarity” about his urge to get involved at inter-county level.

“I never really thought of Ray Dempsey not getting the job, so I was sort of all-in on that, but when he didn’t get the job, discussions started with Wicklow and it was signed and sealed pretty quickly after that. 

“I probably thought the opportunity with Wicklow would have been gone.”

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