I know that this news has been common currency for a good while but, according to this report in Hogan Stand, it was only at last week’s County Board meeting that it was officially confirmed that U21 manager Ray Dempsey has decided to step down, following a third successive disappointing championship campaign at this level.
Up until a few years ago, we were undisputed top dogs within the province at U21 – during which time we even managed to claim an all too rare All-Ireland – and there were high hopes when Ray took over that he might be able to build on what he’d achieved with the minors and deliver even more success at U21.
Instead during Ray’s tenure as U21 manager we’ve been eclipsed both by Galway, who went all the way last year, and by Roscommon, who were beaten by Dublin in last month’s All-Ireland final. It was fairly obvious after the comprehensive manner that the Rossies dismantled us in this year’s Connacht semi-final that a new approach would be needed at U21 and so it’s no surprise now to see confirmation that Ray has stepped down.
It’s clearly important that we now do what we can to engineer a revival in our fortunes at U21, which means that this appointment will be watched with a fair bit of interest. Nominations for the post close at the end of next month and the new bainisteoir is expected to be in place by September.