Blow for Galway as Walsh stays with Sligo
GALWAY'S hunt for a successor to Joe Kernan suffered a blow yesterday when Sligo secured Kevin Walsh as their football manager for a further two years.
Galway native Walsh was one of the favourites to take over the Tribesmen position after a hugely successful first two years in inter-county management, during which he helped Sligo to successive league promotions and also came within a whisker of scalping Kerry in 2009.
The Yeats men also recorded back-to-back championship wins over Galway and Mayo for the first time this summer, before slipping up against Roscommon in the provincial decider and exiting the championship at the hands of Down six days later.
But double All-Ireland winner Walsh has thrown his lot in with Sligo once more -- they will ply their trade in Division 2 next year.
Earlier yesterday, centre-forward Mark Breheny underlined Walsh's importance to the cause.
"We want to build on that again and move a couple of steps further on from what we achieved this year," Breheny said.
"If we can get back to another Connacht final it'd be fantastic. His influence has been great, he's introduced a lot of new blood in the panel. Hopefully we'll be in as good shape if not better next year."
With relatively little management experience to his name, Walsh was a surprise choice as Sligo manager back in late 2008 but Breheny remembers that the Galway man struck up an instant rapport with the panel.
"I played against him and the younger players would remember seeing him play," said the 29-year-old. "His record as a player was part of the deal when he came into Sligo. We all knew he was a very good player.
"That can only last for so long and just being a good player wasn't going to hold up.
"But I think from the first meeting we had we knew we had something special with the plans he had and the way he came across and his ambitions for us.
"From that night on, we haven't really looked back under him and we have won consecutive Division 4 and Division 3 titles. We're going in the right direction and hopefully we can put in a good performance in Division 2 next year."
All of this year's squad are expected to return in January with the panel's elder statesman, Eamonn O'Hara, in line for his 18th championship season.
Brendan Egan, who was part of the 2007 Connacht-winning side, could also be in line for a recall after returning from a stint working abroad.
Breheny agreed that Sligo will have to learn how to handle being favourites after their shock defeat to Roscommon in Castlebar.
"That's where I hope the future will lie with Sligo," he said. "That you're going into games not handicapped by the favourites tag, like the Tyrones and Kilkennys and Kerrys of this world do.
"They are well able to take that and that's something we will strive for in the next couple of years. When we get the opportunity to play in a Connacht final again, I'm sure we won't leave it behind us."