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Coaching mastermind behind Meath's remarkable success confirms departure

Paul Garrigan is moving on after a ‘magical journey’ with Eamonn Murray’s All-Ireland winners.

End of the road: Paul Garrigan.
End of the road: Paul Garrigan.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ONE OF THE masterminds behind Meath’s remarkable ladies football success, Paul Garrigan, has departed the set-up.

Garrigan, who coached under the tutelage of Eamonn Murray for six years, confirmed his exit in an interview with The Wicklow People.

The Meath native, who relocated to Baltinglass and works as a Games Development Officer with Wicklow and Leinster GAA, shared the article on his Twitter account today, adding:

“Many thanks to so many people that have contributed to a magical journey. A fantastic story from the outside looking in and even more unbelievable one from the inside looking out. Will get around to thanking everyone over next few weeks.”

Backroom team departures had been expected. “I know most of the coaches are leaving, they’re moving on,” as Murray said in the build-up to last weekend’s All-Ireland final win over Kerry. “Will I stay or not? I don’t know. I won’t tell anybody until after the match or a week after, we’ll see what happens.”

Garrigan, along with fellow Baltinglass clubmen Shane Wall and Paddy Dowling, joined Murray’s Royal set-up in 2017, with the county at a low ebb.

Having severely struggled in the senior doldrums, they were rebuilding at intermediate level and in Division 3 of the league. Now, they are back-to-back All-Ireland senior champions, their incredible rise well-documented at this stage.

Intermediate glory arrived in December 2020 after back-to-back final defeats, while they lifted the Brendan Martin Cup for the very first time the following August after a fairytale return to the top-flight.

They ended Dublin’s perfect five in-a-row bid in the final, and backed up that success in 2022 with the Division 1 league and championship double.

meath-celebrate-with-the-brendan-martin-cup Celebrations after the 2021 All-Ireland senior final win. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Garrigan told The Wicklow People. “It’s been so enjoyable to watch that team go from where they were to the pinnacle of ladies Gaelic football in this country. It was an amazing opportunity to work with some really talented footballers and to help them develop and progress to the place where they are now.

“From my point of view, it has also been a tough job. It’s not simple, balancing such a role and holding down your own job and making time for family given the journey involved from Baltinglass. There’s so much involved, from team selection meetings, planning the sessions, one-to-one meetings, arranging pitches and more. It’s been so enjoyable but also very tiring.

“It’s been amazing, it really has. But the journey is over now. Hopefully I’ll have new challenges in the near future but not just right now. I need a rest.”

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Wall and Meath psychologist Kelley Fay, both often referenced by players, have since paid tribute to the departing coach on Twitter.

“Did one of the all time great jobs with Meath Ladies,” Wall wrote. “Putting the management team together, managing the management team, organising the coaching, developing the players and most importantly creating the unique team culture. Top Man.”

“There isn’t enough words to describe how brilliant Paul Garrigan is,” Fay added. “He is absolutely the mastermind behind this teams success. Thank you for inviting me in 4 years ago Paul. It’s safe to say we haven’t looked back.”

Stephen Maxwell, another well-known coach in the game who was drafted into the Meath set-up this season, also hailed Garrigan’s impact.

“A few days of reflection,” he wrote. “Created such a strong bond within the playing group, brought a management team together that could collectively compliment each other and build on consistent hard work, and players responded every time. Fair play to Paul Garrigan bringing it altogether.”

Mark Brennan, Eugene Eivers, Irene Munnelly, Packie Reilly, Michelle Grimes (FLO), John Peters (doctor) and Hayley Clarke (physio) made up Meath’s 2022 backroom team.

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Emma Duffy

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