Behind the scenes shake-up
There may be precious little activity on the managerial front -- but the county back-room merry-go-round is in full swing, writes Colm Keys
Published 18/11/2011 | 05:00
The lowest number of new managers in recent times have been appointed to inter-county Gaelic football teams for the new season in 2012.
Just five counties have had vacancies since the end of the championship, with Roscommon among the last to make their appointment last night.
Only Fermanagh, who began their interview process yesterday, have yet to fill their vacancy. It points to a greater level of patience among county boards, with the number of managers who will be in positions for four years or more in 2012 rising to double figures for the first time in recent memory.
In recent years the turnover has been high, with 14 vacancies filled between the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. Last year there were 10 positions to fill.
Mickey Harte will be 10 years with Tyrone in 2012, while Kieran McGeeney (Kildare), Conor Counihan (Cork), Jason Ryan (Wexford) and John Evans (Tipperary) will be preparing for a fifth campaign in charge of their respective counties.
Pat Gilroy (Dublin), Liam Bradley (Antrim), Jack O'Connor (Kerry), Glen Ryan (Longford) and Mickey Moran (Leitrim) are all heading for a fourth year in charge.
But one significant trend is the changes taking place among back-room teams. Boards are happy to leave managers in place, but are, in some cases, keen to freshen up their support teams.
Over 20 of the 31 counties included here will register some change in personnel from a selector to a strength and conditioning coach.
The Antrim manager Liam Bradley has gone for a complete clearout, with former Irish rugby international Andy Ward part of his new back-room team.
There are plenty of coaching transfer moves, including Paul Grimley from Meath to Armagh, Aidan O'Rourke from Kildare to Down and Cian O'Neill from Tipperary hurling to Mayo football.
Former Kildare player Anthony Rainbow has left the Lilywhites U-21 set-up to take an assistant role with Luke Dempsey in Carlow. His Suncroft club-mate Wayne Middleton will be involved in strength and conditioning.
Pat Gilroy is back in for a fourth year and last week expressed the hope that he would have the same back-room team in place once they tie up some loose ends. Mickey Whelan has said he is stepping down, but hopes are high that he will be persuaded back.
For the third time Kieran McGeeney has turned to his native Armagh for an assistant. First it was Paul Grimley for two years, then it was Aidan O'Rourke for two years, now it is John Rafferty, who coached St Gall's to the 2006 All-Ireland final and was a selector with Joe Kernan in 2007. Niall Carew remains.
After just one year as Justin McNulty's wing man, the former Galway footballer Paul Clancy has departed. John Mulligan, who has had success with Portlaoise in recent years, has been brought in to further 'localise' the back-room team with Donie Norton.
Selector Liam Keenan is gone back to his club, but Glen Ryan is unlikely to make changes as he enters a a fourth year.
Martin McQuillan and Peter McDonnell are gone as selectors, but Peter Fitzpatrick has yet to confirm replacements. Gerry Cummiskey will stay, but ex-Donegal manager Brian McEniff won't be involved in an official capacity.
Paul Grimley joined Liam Harnan and Barry Callaghan, who left earlier in the year. Grimley has gone back to his native Armagh. Tom Keague has been promoted to assistant manager, with Graham Geraghty enlisted as a selector. Former Olympian high hurdler Sean Cahill has been introduced to work on speed and fitness. Martin McElkennon remains as strength and conditioning coach.
Gerry Cooney has been appointed manager and Jimmy Stewart will be one of his selectors, but former Kilmacud Crokes manager Paddy Carr has stated he will not be taking a role in an official capacity. Cooney is expected to add to his back-room team in the coming weeks.
Former Offaly footballer Joe Quinn is to take up a physical fitness role with Westmeath. Selector Tom Darcy stays with Pat Flanagan, now heading into his third year, but a second selector, Larry Giles, has departed.
Jason Ryan has yet to finalise his backroom team, but two strength and conditioning coaches, Michael Bolger and Conor Berry, who are both from Wexford, have been added. John Hegarty is expected to stay on as coach with Ger Foxe and Dermot O'Hanlon as selectors.
Harry Murphy, who spearheaded much of Rathnew's success in recent years, has taken over from Mick O'Dwyer, who ended his five-year reign last summer. Kiltegan's Gavin Wynne and Bray's Mick Murray will act as selectors.
Former Irish rugby international Andy Ward has been brought in by Liam Bradley as a strength and conditioning coach. Gearoid Adams, the former Antrim player and son of Sinn Fein president Gerry, and former Derry half-back Paul McFlynn are Bradley's new selectors. Existing selectors Paddy McNeill and Niall Conway make way.
Paul Grimley has come in as assistant to manager Paddy O'Rourke, ending a cycle that has taken him to Cavan, Kildare, Monaghan and Meath since his last tour of duty with Joe Kernan in his native county. Donal Murtagh has stepped down as selector. Mike McGurn retains responsibility for strength and conditioning.
Val Andrews and Terry Hyland were joint managers in 2011, but for 2012 Andrews will be the sole boss, with Hyland working as a selector. The much travelled John Morrison has been taken on board in a coaching capacity.
The status quo is retained in Derry. Barry Dillon will again be assistant manager, Conal Sheridan the trainer and Jonathan Kelly the goalkeeping coach.
Jim McGuinness is expected to stick with the same back-room team that proved so successful in 2011. Rory Gallagher will again be his assistant.
The departure of high-profile figures Brian McIver and Paddy Tally at the end of the championship was smoothed over by the introduction of former Armagh player Aidan O'Rourke. Jerome Johnston remains as a selector, Amy Davis takes over physical fitness responsibilities.
The interview process is under way in Fermanagh and will be concluded next week. Peter Canavan is among the front-runners, with Kieran Donnelly and Enda Kilpatrick in assistance.
No change for Monaghan, but manager Eamonn McEneaney has indicated an addition will be made to his back-room team between now and January.
Change is rare for Mickey Harte, but after a few seasons falling below the usual high standards, he may seek to shake things up. Tony Donnelly, his trusted sidekick for so long, will remain.
Micheal McDermott brings in Michael Cahill as a strength and conditioning coach and selector and may add one more selector. Liam McHale will continue in a coaching capacity.
No change in Cork. Ger O'Sullivan, Jim Nolan, Peadar Healy and Terry O'Neill remain as a selectors. Aidan O'Connell stays as trainer.
No change anticipated in Kerry, with Donie Buckley still on board as a coach.
Ephie Fitzgerald has stepped down as coach after just one year, but the former Kildare corner-back Brian Lacey has been brought in to replace him.
Alan Ward has returned as physical trainer after a two-year absence, replacing Brian Murray. Tommy Twomey and Brian Burke remain as selectors.
John Owens sticks with Joe Hagan as trainer, Jim McGrath, Liam Dalton and Ken Hassett as selectors and Eddie O'Grady in logistics.
Alan Mulholland transports his U-21 team to the senior set-up, with Donal O Flatharta and Alan Flynn assisting him in his new role.
Former player George Dugdale joins manager Mickey Moran as a selector after Martin McGowan's departure. Dugdale and the other selector Barney Breen were members of the 1994 Connacht championship-winning squad.
Paul Jordan and Martin Connolly stepped down after one season and that has given James Horan the opportunity to lure Cian O'Neill from Tipperary hurling. He will take up a coaching role. James Nallen and Tom Prendergast will remain as selectors and Dr Ed Coughlan will continue advising the squad on strength and conditioning.
Des Newton was appointed as manager at last night's county board meeting. Former All Star Enon Gavin was confirmed as a selector.
No change in Sligo where Paul Taylor, Paul Durcan and Dessie Sloyan will continue to assist manager Kevin Walsh for a fourth year.