Colum O'Meara, the new manager of the Longford senior hurling squad.
Galway man Colum O’Meara did not know much about Longford hurling when he was informed by a friend about the vacant manager’s job. He still is working with limited knowledge of the county but that does not matter to O’Meara because it’s a new experience for both him and the players.
Speaking to the Leader the new hurling boss admitted improving and developing players are his main targets: “I want to improve and develop every player and to bond the team a bit more. I don’t know much about Longford over the years but it’s all about bonding. If you have respect for a team-mate you are going to try a bit harder and he will hopefully do the same for you.
“By everybody doing that you are going to have a better team. If everybody only improves a small bit, sure it’s going the right way.”
O’Meara has experience of managing in the lower tier competitions having trained London to their first Nicky Rackard Cup title in 2005 while he was living in London at the time. Although back home when they got to the Christy Ring Final in 2012, he still helped out as the Exiles claimed the title.
It’s clear from talking to O’Meara that hurling is his life and for him it’s all about the team and the jersey.
“It’s not who you are, what you are or what club you are from - you are a Longford man when you pull on the jersey. That’s the way I put it to the lads. It’s not Slashers, Clonguish or Wolfe Tones.
“To me it doesn’t matter where you are from when you are with me in the dressing room and the training pitch and hurling field.”
When he was first appointed Longford manager O’Meara contacted over 60 players. For the last few training sessions he has had over 30 players attend with others promising to make a return. Joe O’Brien is out with an ankle injury but O’Meara is hopeful that down the road the influential player will be back.
O’Meara said: “Everything is going well but sure we are only at the start of the road. To improve Longford hurling is the target. Fitness will follow. “That’s the way I look at it. I want to give everyone a fair chance, treat everyone the same, bond everyone together and please God get a result or two on the board and drive on again.”
Longford’s first competitive game under O’Meara is at home to Louth in the Kehoe Cup on Saturday 30 December. He admitted “it will be only like a challenge match” due to only being new in the job.
“The real hurling comes after the Kehoe Cup. I want the players to be able to compete in the National League and hopefully come Nicky Rackard time to be winning the group and getting to the last four. After that you never know what can happen.”
The Killimor native has brought his own selectors with him and has three helpers; one from each club in the county to act as go betweens. One person O’Meara would love to have with him on this journey is his friend and former Galway star Tony Keady, who sadly passed away in August.
O’Meara was joint manager with Ahascraigh-Fohenagh with Keady.
“We used to see each other four times a week and talking on the phone seven days a week. Everyone you work with you can learn something from them and you definitely could learn from Tony,” concluded Colum as he looks ahead to the challenge of managing the Longford hurlers.