BRIAN Cody will continue as Kilkenny team manager for a 16th successive season next year but there are changes in his backroom team for the first time since 2004.
James McGarry and Derek Lyng, both of whom featured prominently for several years as goalkeeper and midfielder respectively under the longest-serving manager in the game, will join Michael Dempsey as Cody's co-selectors with Martin Fogarty stepping down, having intimated to county board officers that he did not wish to continue.
After being initially omitted from the panel by Cody when he took over as manager in November 1998, McGarry earned a quick recall and went on to become one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, winning six All-Ireland medals. Lyng joined the panel in 2002 and also won six All-Ireland medals.
Fogarty and Dempsey came aboard as Cody's selectors following the departure of Noel Skehan and Johnny Walsh at the end of 2004. Since then, Kilkenny have won six All-Ireland titles, comprised of a four-in-a-row in 2006-2009 and a double in 2011-12.
However, after winning this year's league title, Kilkenny lost to Dublin and Cork in the championship, leaving them out of the All-Ireland race before the semi-finals for the first time since 1996. It was always thought likely that Cody (pictured) would continue and, with Fogarty departing, it left an opening for a new face in the back-room team. However, Cody has opted to add two newcomers in Lyng and McGarry, with Dempsey, who also trains the team, continuing.
Kilkenny's performance drop in the championship is likely to lead to an overhaul of the panel early next year to ascertain if there are new players ready to make the big step-up. Cody, Dempsey and the two new selectors will now turn their attentions to the closing stages of the club championship in a search for talent.
Meanwhile, former Dublin midfielder Paul Bealin is the new Westmeath football manager, following his ratification on a 35-4 vote at a county board meeting last night.
Bealin has previously managed Wexford and Carlow, as well as several clubs in different counties.
Pat Flanagan looked to be in an strong position to extend his tenure when he led Westmeath back to Division 1 of the Allianz League, but their fortunes took a dip in the championship where they lost by 16 points to Dublin in the Leinster quarter-finals.
Given Dublin's previous and subsequent form, Westmeath's defeat had to be taken in context, but there was major disappointment in the county when they lost a first-round qualifier tie by a point to Fermanagh in Mullingar. Fermanagh lost to Cavan by seven points in the next round.
Bealin enjoyed a long career with Dublin, peaking in 1995 when he partnered Brian Stynes at midfield on the team that won the All-Ireland title.
He turned to management on his retirement and has accumulated wide experience at inter-county, level which obviously impressed Westmeath.
They will be in Division 1 next year along with Dublin, Mayo, Kildare, Cork, Kerry, Tyrone and Derry.
Brian Hanley was ratified last night as Westmeath hurling manager for another year.