FORMER Kildare football selector Niall Carew has been handed his first inter-county senior management position by the Waterford County Board.
Board executives held interviews for the position of senior manager on Thursday night and met with Carew again yesterday to finalise his appointment as manager and coach of the Munster side.
The Déise were the last inter-county football team to install a manager for the 2013 season and over the past couple of months the board sounded out a number of prominent figures for the post. These included former Wexford manager Jason Ryan, former Cork hurling boss and ex-Waterford football manager Denis Walsh, ex-Carlow chief Luke Dempsey and former Carlow forward Mark Carpenter.
Shane Briggs, one of the side's top players over the past 10 years, was also mentioned at a recent board meeting, but reports that he was interested in the job were off the mark.
None of those mentioned were present when the executive met prospective candidates on Thursday night, however.
Instead, the Sunday Independent understands that Dungarvan's Jimmy Healy and Carew were the two prospects to sit down with the board.
A footballer of note in his playing days, Healy garnered plenty of management experience at club level and was recently involved with the Dungarvan hurlers. His appointment was widely anticipated by players until Carew and ex-Kildare junior Tony Kelly entered the race.
St Kevin's clubman Carew, who had served as selector with Kieran McGeeney since 2008, stepped down from his senior and under 21 Lilywhite posts a few weeks back after five years working with the Armagh man.
His decision to bring Kelly with him was a plus. Kelly managed the Kildare junior team for the past five years, bringing them to an All-Ireland final and two Leinster finals in that period.
Former Kildare physio Noel Mallon is also on the ticket and sources say Mallon could double up as strength and conditioning coach for the team.
Meanwhile, newly-crowned Waterford senior football champions Stradbally have been hit with a massive double blow ahead of today's eagerly-awaited Munster Club SFC semi-final.
Fresh from their dramatic victory against The Nire, Stradbally must tackle Cork giants Castlehaven without the services of stalwarts John Hearne and Trevor Costelloe, both of whom won their eighth county medals for their club last weekend. The duo have been ruled out of this afternoon's last-four clash with the Corkmen after suffering injuries in the win over The Nire last Saturday night.
X-rays afterwards confirmed that midfielder Hearne suffered a broken bone in his leg, while corner-back Costelloe picked up a severe concussion. Reports indicate that the latter carried on for two minutes last weekend before team mentors realised that he had to be substituted.
Castlehaven captain Seánie Cahalane is also in danger of missing the big clash in Clonakilty. The corner-forward picked up a shoulder injury in the final minutes of 'Haven's Cork SFC final victory over Duhallow over three weeks ago, and sat out the subsequent provincial quarter-final win over Dromcollogher-Broadford.