Saturday 25 October 2014

Eugene McGee: Smart money is on end of managerial dream teams

Published 09/08/2010 | 08:39

Joe Kernan left his role as Galway manager last week after failing to agree on his backroom team.

THE failure of the Galway County Board to reappoint Joe Kernan for a second year is a historic decision.

It seems to be the first time a county board cried “stop” in relation to the cost of team management. Last year, Kernan requested and was given a management package that included fitness experts Paul Hatton and John McCloskey – and with all three hailing from Ulster, then that meant a great deal of commuting.

It all added up to hefty travelling expenses for the year and the Galway chairman John Joe Holleran and his executive decided the county could no longer afford this expensive package. Kernan sent in his resignation, which was accepted this week.

Up to now, in most cases, managers were given everything they ever looked for. This saw the growth of ‘managerial packages’ which often included two or three backroom staff alongside the team manager.

In Monaghan this year, they had manager Seamus McEnaney with Tyrone’s Martin McElkennon as trainer and Joe Kernan’s former No 2 in Armagh, Paul Grimley, who had transferred from Kildare where he was part of the package with Kieran McGeeney the previous two years. McGeeney in turn replaced Grimley with former Armagh player Aidan O’Rourke.

Galway’s Holleran was quoted with these immortal words this week: “We would not be in a position to sustain that, really. The cost of travelling and the cost of everything is a big issue.” We can be sure that other counties will also rein in the costs of preparing county teams, which now run between €400,000 and €1m a year.

The drastic change in the economic climate will make sure of that and with dozens of inter-county players unemployed and on the dole, county boards surely have better ways of investing in their teams than paying out lavish expenses for managerial packages.

It will be interesting to see if the trend set by Galway in this case has an influence on other managerial appointments in the coming months. It could have a big bearing on how things work out during the upcoming annual merry-go-round of appointing team managers, which has already commenced for the 2011 campaign.

System tweaks must look past big boys

THE strong counties run the GAA in all its facets – they always have done and they always will. The largely populated counties and the more successful in terms of All-Irelands won have more voting power at Congress, more prominent GAA politicians and provide more GAA presidents than the smaller counties – with the odd exceptions like Fermanagh’s Peter Quinn and Wicklow’s Jack Boothman.

Bearing that in mind, I was not losing any sleep over the recent howls of anger from some of the more powerful counties about changing the present structures in football.

The only counties who were calling for change are those who regularly win the All-Ireland or aspire to do so, such as Tyrone, Kerry and Dublin. They want to give the winning provincial champions a second chance. I didn’t see much complaining from Roscommon who – like the other three provincial champions, Kerry, Tyrone and Meath – were beaten last weekend. And we will certainly hear no complaints from Waterford, Longford, Limerick, Leitrim, Westmeath, Wicklow, Carlow or Fermanagh either, because they have more serious problems to confront than trying to get a second chance if they lose their provincial title. Like Roscommon recently, they would be quite happy just to win a provincial championship. Between them, these eight counties during the last 110 years have won the grand total of FIVE provincial titles.

When Dublin tried to make a change at Congress this year, the little guys cut them off at the knees and rightly so. The superiority complex these strong counties display when looking for a change like this is appalling. Both Kerry and Tyrone have done well out of the qualifiers by winning All-Irelands. Are we to expect that if this latest notion is backed and some county goes through to the All-Ireland semi-final unbeaten, they too will be given a second chance? And if, like Cork last year, a team reaches the All-Ireland final unbeaten, then do Mickey Harte, Jack O’Connor and Dublin County Board want them to have a second chance?

The qualifiers were introduced to prevent weak counties only having one game a year in the championship. But not enough thought was applied and the qualifiers have suited the strong counties more than the weak. If there is tweaking to be done, it should concern the weaker end of the football spectrum, not the top counties who regularly win provincial titles. Why not have a two-match tie, home and away, in the first round of the qualifiers to provide at least three championship games for every county.

The idea that strong counties should now get even more concessions is ludicrous. But the six-day rule for SOME provincial losers should be stopped, because it is patently unfair.

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