Clara native Pat Flanagan (49 ) was named as the interim manager of the Westmeath senior football team after a meeting of the county board in Cusack Park on Wednesday April 21.
The Mullingar-based training and development agency instructor was given the job for the summer only and the job is to be re-advertised after Westmeath’s championship run comes to an end - hopefully in late September.
His selection has not been out of the blue, as he was a selector under the last but one manager, Tomás O’Flatharta, and was on the interview shortlist eight months ago when the ill-fated Hackett decision was made.
Flanagan brings a fairly impressive CV with him to the post. In 2007 he was in charge of Tyrellspass as they became the first Westmeath team to reach a Leinster club senior football final, unfortunately succumbing to a stronger St Vincents of Dublin on the day.
The 2007 county title was his second on the bounce with the tidy towners and his third in all after his 2003 success with his home club Clara in the Offaly senior championship. He was also a panellist on the successful Kerry nemesis team of 1982.
Speaking with the Advertiser yesterday (April 22 ) Mr Flanagan said he hadn’t finalised his backroom team just yet but would be “realistically in a couple of days”. A first training session was held last night as he felt “We have to get it up and running as soon as possible”.
The decisive move by the county board has been hailed as “positive” and “calming” by a number of former players.
“Pat is a good man. I’d have time for him,” said one. “The ball’s now back in the players’ court. The county board done what they asked, now let’s see will they,” he added.
The most likely first improvement to the team ought to be the return to the fold of Denis Glennon, who left Hackett’s panel in February but was an integral cog in Flanagan’s back-to-back titles with Tyrellspass in 2006-7.
Opinions on the other marquee name presently outside the fold, Dessie Dolan, are more divided on the potential for his return, as the 2004 AllStar must also attend to his impending nuptials this summer.
However, this may be softened by the news from the inner sanctum of the county board that his father, Des Dolan Snr, will have his candidature accepted for interview when the full-time job comes up for re-negotiation at the end of the championship.
Though Mr Flanagan admitted he had not yet spoken to any of the prodigal players in just his first day in the job he did add promisingly: “I don’t think I’d be doing my job if I didn’t [contact them]”.
“I’d at least have to provide the opportunity for them to do that. It’s for the good of Westmeath,” he said.
Flanagan’s installation as replacement to the man who beat him to the job last autumn came after Brendan Hackett was unable to reverse the players’ vote of no confidence at a meeting with them last Friday, April 16.