Malcolm McDonnell Interview

New manager Malcolm McDonnell chats about his management team, Style of play, preparation for the new season and more

Derek McKeown, Hugh Lyons, Malcolm McDonnell and Alan Brennan


With a new season fast approaching comes fresh optimism, Managers, players, supporters, club men and women up and down the County with fresh hope that better days are ahead after such a difficult period with the return of club football. On Monday June 7th our Men's seniors start their campaign with the first town derby of the year at home to Clan na Gael in the Paddy Sheelan Cup. Before the game we caught with new manager Malcolm McDonnell.

"Previous manager Wayne McKeever happens to be a very good friend and when he asked me to join him last year I was only to delighted. The transition from selector to Manager has been made easier because i got to know all the lads last year and a simple thing like knowing all there names is a huge plus for any new Manager coming into a club. Naturally there is far more correspondence between myself and the players now, so that has been busy and like anyone you want to put your own stamp on the team and as a selector last year you are conscious of not overstepping the mark" explained Malcolm.

"Before taking up any managerial role, It needs serious thought and should never be taken lightly because let it be County or Club there is a pressure to do well and at club level being competitive is hugely important but also so should player development and building a good club culture. Thankfully the Gaels have all of these traits and the players and the club have been so welcoming to me. The Gaels players are wonderful lads and they give so much, they are enthusiastic and I know they want success but sometimes that lack of belief can stop them from achieving it. As I do constantly say to them, Why not the Gaels"

"There are so many systems out there now that sometimes I feel the game is being lost from what it once was. I and the management team would like to see the Gaels play with freedom and express themselves with heads up, moving the ball fast, playing quick ball into our forwards. The key to winning any game is to score more than your opponents so lets get our forwards shooting from within the scoring zone and when we don't have the ball we are defending from 13,14,15 backwards. Our defensive unit is strong and if we can cut down on needless frees we can be competing with any team out there"

In strange and challenging times for all teams particularly a new management team it's clear to see the management and players have put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes on fitness and team chemistry having been keeping in regular contact using platforms like zoom.

"Preparations have been hampered with covid but all teams have been in the same situation. I contacted every player for a chat late December/January then we held zoom fitness classes for 6 weeks in January/February with Shane Rice. I organized Graham Byrne to do a Nutritional Talk via zoom at the end of February. Before we started back into another 6 weeks of Prehab and Band work in Febraury /March. Graham came back for a follow up Nutritional chat and Flexibility, Strength zoom class. We held a Virtual Players Meeting via zoom on March 21st. Following that we set up Leadership groups with small pods meeting up to work on skills etc. The lads also set up a strava group where all runs,walks,cycling & hit sessions were monitored and posted to the group. This brought us to May where we started back on the field on the 10th of May we had Graham down to do a pitch session with us and Hugh Lyons has being putting the lads through there paces all the other nights. So the players have been busy and we have had to take a different approach with lots to organise to be ready for the start of the season fitness and morale wise. We are currently awaiting our 1st competitive game in the Paddy Sheelan on Bank Holiday Monday night at home against the Clans at 7.30pm. With the League starting on June 20th its going to be an extremely busy few months ahead"

"When taking over this year I felt it was important to come in with a new fresh management team. Hugh Lyons is Trainer, Alan Brennan and Derek McKeown are selectors. I have worked with Hugh with the Louth minors and Louth Juniors. He was a selector with his own club Naomh Mairtin for many years and was hugely involved the 2 years they reached the Senior Final. Hugh being a school teacher is very vocal in what he expects on the training ground and his experience is hugely valuable. Alan and me are great friends and have been involved with teams for many years from O'Connells to Louth Juniors. Alan was a selector with Paddy Bates when O'Connells won the Intermediate Championship in 2016. He was a tough as nails defender in his playing days and he will be working on our defensive side bringing that steeliness to our defence. Derek is a hugely positive person and when i met him for the first time I knew he was a man I wanted around the team. Derek along with his twin brother tormented many defences during his playing days with Roche. Derek also has a great knowledge of the youth coming through the ranks from following his own son Dylan up through the underage structure. Derek works closely with the forwards always giving advice and tips".

"Finally I would like to recognise 2 lads who are also on board helping out behind the scenes with Video and Stats they are Anthony McSorley and Andrew Colman. This info has become an integral part of any teams preparations so fair play to the lads for there help. To all the Gaels supporters out there we hope to see you all at the upcoming games with the easing of covid restrictions and you can be the difference in encouraging and willing on your team. it can make all the difference", Stated Malcolm


Malcolm McDonnell

Best wishes to Malcolm, his backroom team and the players from everyone connected with club for the year ahead.


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