Thursday 23 March 2017

Dilemma of success

Sligo would understand if Walsh left for Galway - we just don't want him to

IF we thought that six days is a long time in football, well three weeks is an awful long time when it emerges that your manager could be enticed to go somewhere else. When rumours first started to surface about Joe Kernan in Galway, none of us needed to be told that they would come looking for Kevin Walsh.

I'd hate to see Kevin go. He's done fantastic work here in Sligo and I believe that he can take us even further. But playing Devil's advocate, I can see why the Galway job would prove an attractive proposition.

He's a Galway man, a legend there, with three All Star awards and two All-Ireland medals. When the home county comes calling, it's a very difficult one and you couldn't blame him if he moved. I know Kevin and I know that he'll make the right decision for the team around him, his family.

Kevin will weigh up all of the pros and cons associated with such a big decision and he'll consider other factors too.

For example, when Galway were looking for a minor manager at one point, Kevin put his name forward, but wasn't considered in any shape or form. Now that the big Kernan appointment in Galway hasn't worked out, they think they can come in and poach a manager who's doing well.

history

History tells us that managers who are successful in one county don't necessarily do well in others. Peter Ford came in and brought Sligo to a new level before Galway came looking for him. They got their man, but things didn't work out for Peter there.

Similarly, John O'Mahony did superbly well with Galway and Mayo were crying out for him. Again, that move didn't work.

Players assume that success will come automatically when the big-name manager arrives, that they will go on to All-Ireland finals, but Kernan is the prime example. He did massive things with Armagh, but with Galway he won just one championship match and is now gone. That's something that Kevin will have to consider.

Look, I would hate if he left. He brings an infectious attitude of wanting to win and aiming to be better. His aim was to get rid of our traditional losers tag and make history. It's very much like Tommy Breheny, whom I supported when he left in 2007. Everybody would support Kevin 100pc if he walks away and I can fully understand the position he now finds himself in.

As I said last week, I'm not sure about my future. I won't be making any decisions just yet but if Kevin goes and a new man comes in, a decision may be made for me. However, as things stand, Kevin remains our manager and he's getting the junior team ready for an All-Ireland final.

He came as a novice to inter-county management and learned from his mistakes in the first couple of months. The first thing he brought was his man-management skills and he was never going chasing after fellas. There was no way Kevin was begging guys to play on the county team.

He wanted players in for discussions in October and November before assigning them programmes for the winter. You came back then in condition to train extremely hard and Kevin's attitude was that you come on board straightaway because he wasn't coming looking for you at a later stage.

Everybody that put in the hard work was given a chance and if a player was performing consistently well, he held his place. Eugene Mullen was unfortunate to get injured this year, but that opened the door for Stephen Gilmartin, who was never dropped after that.

With me, Kevin was very clear and had a good understanding of my situation. He realised my age and where I was coming from. He wanted me in peak shape for the championship and urged me to get myself ready for the important games.

Overall, he's brought a real attention to detail and right now, the package in Sligo is very good. We want that to continue.

Irish Independent

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