Billy O’Loughlin resigns from Longford senior football role after one season

Longford are the latest county looking for a new manager after Billy O’Loughlin resigned after just one season in their senior football hotseat.

’Loughlin last night informed Longford GAA chiefs of his decision, citing a changing work schedule that involved the Laois native spending more time in the United States.

His departure is the latest in the space of a week that has seen massive upheaval on the managerial front, with Colm Bonnar ousted as Tipperary hurling manager, Liam Cahill stepping down in Waterford (and promptly filling the breach in his native Tipp), Shane Roche resigning as Wexford football manager and Declan Bonner calling time after five years with Donegal, all this in the midst of intense speculation about Brian Cody’s future intentions after 24 years as Kilkenny hurling supremo.

O’Loughlin’s brief tenure contained a mixture of league highs and lows followed by a shortlived championship. The Arles-Killeen clubman achieved his first target of consolidating Longford’s Division 3 status, avoiding relegation on the last day with victory over Laois, a result that condemned his home county to the basement division.

But Longford then fell at the first Leinster fence, losing to Westmeath by 3-13 to 0-14 having earlier ambushed their neighbours in the league. They subsequently lost to Fermanagh in the first round of the inaugural Tailteann Cup.

O’Loughlin made his decision “with a heavy heart”, explaining: “Due to my work commitments in the States over the past few months, and into the autumn, I am no longer in a position to give the role my undivided attention.

“Retaining Division 3 status was our first main objective and with the introduction of so many new, young and talented players to the senior panel and with wins against Westmeath and Laois along the way, we managed to achieve this.

“I have every confidence that these young players will build on the great work that was done in 2022. I hope that the progress we made can be added to by the new management team, and I wish them every success for 2023.”

The Longford GAA executive thanked O’Loughlin for his commitment over the past year. “Billy and his backroom team have brought a new level of professionalism to our county team set-up and, but for a couple of results over the course of the Allianz Football League Division 3 campaign, would have been in the hunt for promotion,” a county board statement read.

“Over his short tenure, Billy gave many young players their first foray at senior inter-county level, and he can take pride in the fact that he has successfully moulded a number of these players to senior ranks from where they will become leaders of future teams.”

Back in January, O’Loughlin made an early media impression when revealing that Longford’s primary goal was the Alllianz League, describing the Leinster SFC as a “defunct” competition.

After exiting the O’Byrne Cup to Dublin, he said: “Our championship is starting in two weeks’ time down in Limerick; we’ve seven championship matches in Division 3 and, after that, we don’t really mind what happens. That’s what’s important to us.

“When you dangle a carrot at the end of a stick, a championship that would give you seven games … I think the GAA when they look at rejigging it, that’s what’s important to Longford people and Longford players.

“And hopefully it’s coming down the tracks, because the Leinster championship has been defunct for years and we are placing little to no emphasis on it.”

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