Managerial hunt on club scene in full flow right now
The annual managerial merry go round is up and running with a number of clubs already setting their stall out for 2018.
It's the time of year when clubs try to attract the best possible personnel to take charge for the upcoming season in the hope that it can drive them forward to some silverware, or perhaps try to rejuvenate a club that is somewhat in freefall owing to the lack of success on the playing pitches.
Changing of the guard is a regular occurrence with few managers surviving more than two years, unless they have achieved the club's goal of silverware. This, as a result, leaves many positions vacant as club personnel begin the trawl of the county, with some even looking outside, in their endeavours to attract a high-profile manager, no matter what the expense.
That is the position as we move into the new year. Players believe an outside voice will solve their problems, or most of them, but this is not always the case. I am the firm believer that no matter who is attracted to a vacant post, unless the players buy in one hundred per cent, it is money simply wasted.
Having said that, many clubs achieve their goal without outside influence, being guided by their own club personnel, ex-players who have plied their trade with their own club and county, passing on that type of loyalty which in many instances rubs off on the players at their disposal.
The word manager is not always accepted within the higher echelons of the G.A.A. This is mainly because of the payment system involved, by whatever means, but it's well known that some club managers command figures on a par with some inter-county men at the helm, yet success has been limited, and in many cases non-existent.
But when clubs are appointing managers for 2018 they are looking at a whole new fixtures plan. The inter-county scene has been totally revamped. The league now has an earlier start, while the round-robin provincial hurling series gets under way in May, along with the Leinster Senior football championship.
While the G.A.A. has insisted that April is a month for the clubs, there is the proviso that it is up to each individual county to see how this is implemented. It's difficult to see where Wexford is going with their fixtures plan given its dual county status, with the provincial Senior football championship commencing in early May, followed by a four-game round robin series in the Senior hurling championship from mid-May.
So that begs the question - will April become an inter-county free zone from 2018? This is difficult to comprehend, particularly given the preparations now demanded of inter-county squads in preparation for the championship.
The problems for club managers are caused essentially by a fixtures plan which sees club championships given a blitz-style status from September through to year's end. This year in Wexford we hadtwo Under-21 football finals played practically on the eve of Christmas, so it's difficult to see this changing, unless April is handed over to clubs.
It's certainly going to make for some interesting debate, with club managers no doubt insisting that the April club zone be fully adhered to.
Already many clubs have their personnel in place. Ferns St. Aidan's have Joe Morris in as manager, with Rory Kinsella as trainer. Rory was part of Liam Griffin's 1996 All-Ireland wining management set-up.
Kevin Ryan continues at the helm in Rathnure, with M.J. Reck still steering the fortunes of Oylegate-Glenbrien. Buffers Alley once again have Aidan O'Connor and Robbie Kirwan at the helm, while reigning Senior hurling champions, St. Martin's, will once more have Tomás Codd and his backroom team.
It's expected that Joe Hagan will continue with reigning Senior football champions, Starlights, while it's believed that Seamus Murphy has turned down overtures from former champions, Oulart-The Ballagh, in order to continue at the helm of Wicklow hurling affairs.
Down Kilmore way, hurling fanatic Eddie Maloney will continue his managerial role with the local Junior 'A' side after an impressive year at the helm.
Now this is only starters as we look forward to 2018.