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Sunday 22 April 2018

Flanagan: Sligo hope to rise up

Pat Flanagan. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Pat Flanagan. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

PAT FLANAGAN says he "didn't think twice" when Sligo offered the recently-ousted Westmeath boss an immediate route back into inter-county management.

The Offaly native is also adamant that his late arrival at the Yeats County coalface - at a time when many rivals are already back in full-scale pre-season training - won't be offered as an excuse.

The new Sligo boss (pictured) faces a dual mandate: escape from the relative backwaters of NFL Division Three (they finished a lowly sixth last spring) and atonement for the disaster that was last summer's championship nadir, defeat to London.

Flanagan has his own personal motivations after Westmeath GAA chiefs decreed it was time for managerial change despite the incumbent's achievement of top-flight promotion last April. "I was very disappointed with the way things ended in Westmeath," he told The Herald yesterday.

"I took a couple of weeks to shake off the cobwebs. At the end of the day I'm ambitious and I want to try and achieve, and when the opportunity came I didn't think twice about getting back involved."

The Clara man plans to have a strong local input in his yet-to-be-finalised backroom team and hopes to have his new squad "back up and running by the weekend".

Was he worried that Sligo, having spent almost five months hunting for a successor to Kevin Walsh, will be playing catch-up from the off?

"I can understand that (talk)," he said, "but we can't use that as an excuse. There's still plenty of time to get ourselves ready for the league, and from what I have learned a lot of players have done a certain amount of work anyway. What we have to do now is get ourselves up and moving, and thinking in a proper frame of mind that we can achieve and push on."

After the debacle of Ruislip last May, you might surmise, the only way is up and Flanagan is adamant that "there is potential" in the county. "They're going to be hurt after London. They're a proud county and would be very ambitious to get back up to where they were in the previous few years. Obviously they have come up divisions in the past few years and challenged for Connacht championships, so hopefully we can get them to a different level and use the work that Kevin has done over the past few years ... and see can we get some more out of them."

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