Colm O’Rourke taking early retirement to focus fully on Meath role

New manager ready to cast his net wide as he rebuilds Royal squad for the challenges ahead

Colm O'Rourke: `I want to give this my full attention. If you are not going to do it right, don’t bother doing it at all.' Photograph: Tom Maher/Inpho

Colm O’Rourke has revealed he is taking early retirement to focus fully on being Meath senior football manager.

O’Rourke has taken the decision to bring forward his retirement, and so in December will step down as principal of St Patrick’s Classical School, Navan.

“I’m retiring from my job to concentrate on Meath. I’m taking time out from everything, my only focus next year is the Meath team,” said O’Rourke.

“I think the demands of this job are too great to try and hold down some of the employment I have had in the past, so I will be giving up everything to concentrate on this. I have always felt when you are in for something you are in fully or not at all.


“When you are fully immersed in it, then the chances are you are going to do it better. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m really saddened leaving St Pat’s after 42 years in it, I’d love to stay for another 42, but I don’t think it’s possible to run a county team.”

O’Rourke, who is also stepping away from his role as a Sunday Game analyst, says he would not be retiring this December had he not taken on the role of Meath manager. But the two-time All-Ireland winner stresses his decision is no great personal burden.

“I would have stayed for a while more, but I want to give this my full attention. If you are not going to do it right, don’t bother doing it at all. But I don’t want it to appear as if I’m making a huge sacrifice, for me it’s not a sacrifice at all. I don’t like players or managers ever using the word sacrifice for football.”

O’Rourke has also confirmed that Seán Boylan will be part of his Meath management set-up. Boylan, who managed the Royals to Sam Maguire glory in 1987, 1988, 1996 and 1999, remains an iconic figure in Meath.

And O’Rourke felt it was a missed opportunity that others had failed to use his expertise in the recent past.

“I went to Seán straight away and said ‘Seán I’d like you to be involved in some shape or form, whatever way you want to be, whatever you like. If you want to come down once a week or once a month or if you want to chat to the fellas or come in and give the team talk before the first game in the league that will be fine by me’.

“Because he is the person who still has the most respect, even with current players. He’s a wonderful asset, so I always thought it was foolish people didn’t have him around the place and he has his whole positive nature too that rubs off on players. Seán was delighted when I asked, delighted to be involved.”

O’Rourke will begin casting his net to assemble a squad in the coming weeks at the new Meath Regional Football Championship, where junior and intermediate club players will have a chance to impress while playing as part of amalgamated teams.

“I would think that if we are to progress in Meath that we need to unearth a bunch of players in this competition. There is no point in going back and saying we are going to go with the same group again because it would be the definition of madness hoping that if you keep doing the same thing that it will work differently.”

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times