Wednesday 29 March 2017

Counties not going native

John O'Brien

It's a time of year when, alongside the business of club championships, counties are in the process of selecting managers and it will have cheered many in Galway and beyond to see Anthony Cunningham appointed as John McIntrye's successor a couple of weeks after Alan Mulholland was charged with the task of restoring the county's football fortunes.

It's heartening that Galway have looked within their own borders to fill the vacancies and trusted coaches who have developed through their own structures. It was also interesting to hear a Roscommon official insist they would stay local to replace Fergal O'Donnell and it is tempting to think that, as funds have got tighter, officials are less likely to turn to big-name outsiders.

Yet the trends don't support this. As things stand, less than half the counties will start the 2012 football season with native managers at the helm. Of the 13 counties in the hurling championship, just seven, one more than last year, will be coached by locals (assuming Wexford appoint Liam Dunne or another native and Laois ratify Teddy McCarthy).

The appointment of outside managers can be an emotive issue. Earlier this year incoming president Liam O'Neill detailed his opposition to the practice. O'Neill was right, though, to suggest it should be "an ideal" that counties groom their own coaches, but to achieve that more needs to be done to help develop structures.

What does it tell you that, excluding Wexford, the elite hurling managers hail from just six counties? Assuming McCarthy is a certainty for Laois, that will be four from Cork, three from Clare and two each from Galway and Waterford. It's good to spread the knowledge, just concerning that it remains far too confined.

ssport@independent.ie

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