His first foray into club management outside of his native county Roscommon has been one of slow progress for former St. Brigid’s and Roscommon footballer, Frankie Dolan, as he strives to acquaint his pertinent presence with the Rosemount senior football playing squad during the present COVID-19 pandemic.
With competitive action and group training session prohibited for the foreseeable future, Dolan, who attained the pinnacle accolade of club football in 2013, scoring the winning point to secure All-Ireland final success for St. Brigids, spoke his current managerial frustrations as the public health crisis persists.
“I initially met with the playing squad prior to Christmas where my selectors Patsy O’Connor and Paddy Malynn, outlined our plans for the season ahead with the clear intention of a training focus from January.
“I have to commend the effort of all involved from the start of this process, but not to have played a competitive game to date has been a source of much frustration. There has been a couple of challenge matches to date, but I believe that you learn more from your players when there is a more competitive edge to an encounter,” Frankie acknowledged.
Rosemount’s opening two Division One league fixtures succumbed to the weather elements and now, with the inaugural championship clash against Garrycastle (which was due to take place the weekend following Easter ), also postponed, Frankie and his management team have yet to see the influence of their training methods within a competitive setting.
“The weather has also had a detrimental impact on our training preparations with conditions pre the COVID-19 outbreak not conducive towards use of the playing pitches in Rosemount. However, we were able to work on our skillsets on the astro turf facility during that particular period of time,” Frankie continued.
With no imminent end to lockdown restrictions, maintaining a sense of team unity as proved problematic, but the management team has established a number of wats app groups amongst the squad and with a team leader appointed to each communication channel, the players are expected to continue their individual training and fitness sessions during the current elongated break from on field action.
“There obviously is an ongoing need to maintain that element of team spirit. From my perspective we have a cohesive squad, so enhancing the means of communication during this cessation of group sessions can only be beneficial for our players,” Frankie remarked.
The inaugural championship fixture in mid-April against reigning county champions Garrycastle boasted numerous connotations and one which, when initially announced, gave cause for much anticipation amongst the Westmeath GAA supporting public.
Manning the management sideline for Garrycastle is Gary Dolan, a first cousin of Frankie, while Rosemount native, John Keane, was due to face his native club for the first time in the senior football championship.
“An opening championship game against the current holders. That would have been an ideal fixture to measure the progress we have made as a squad. However, as of now, we do not know if there will be a championship played this year and if it were to progress, the manner in which it will be held.
“Will there be time for all the round robin group fixtures to be played or will the championship be hosted on a knockout basis? If it is to progress, I don’t think that it will be a true reflection of the competing teams as there will not have been sufficient time to have squads prepared sufficiently to contest at such sompetitive levels,” Frankie stressed.
Should the Westmeath senior football championship 2020 eventually throw-in, Frankie and his management team will aspire to surpass the quarter final realisation of last year as Rosemount exited the competition to The Downs.
“We will be doing our utmost as a management team to progress this team. Ideally, you would wish to contest a county final, but we will just analyse matters on a game by game basis and hopefully, that will ensure that we are contesting the latter stages of this year’s championship should it come to pass,” Frankie commented.
Engrained with a winning mentality from his prominent playing career, such an attribute, should it be imposed upon his footballing charges, may ensure an elongated championship presence for Rosemount as they see a first Flanagan Cup win since 1989.