GAA managerial musical chairs kicks into gear
Cash-strapped county boards in frantic search for new messiahs
THE managerial merry-go-round will click back into gear with a renewed sense of urgency as today's championship draws bring 2014 into sharp focus.
In all, nine counties in football and five Liam MacCarthy cup teams have still to appoint managers for the coming season.
however, some counties have already set out their stall for the new year. Westmeath have installed Paul Bealin as manager, while Meath have already trimmed their squad for the forthcoming campaign. With county boards becoming increasingly cash-strapped, the pool they can pick from has become shallower.
Croke Park is taking an increasing interest in county board finances. Kildare's autonomy over their affairs has been diluted, while Sligo have also been told to get their finances in order before appointing a successor to Kevin Walsh.
Longford are another team in the market for a manager, but last month voted to pull the plug on their centre of excellence development on a site that was bought for €400,000.
Antrim thought they had their business concluded after installing Frank Dawson for a second year, but he stepped down earlier this week, citing a lack of ambition on the county board's part.
Contenders: Gearoid Adams name was linked with the post before Dawson's appointment, while Lenny Harbison, who led St Gall's to an All-Ireland club title in 2010, is also a contender.
Peter Canavan stepped down earlier this year after two seasons at the helm. This season saw them narrowly miss out on promotion to Division 2 and record the first championship win of his tenure over Westmeath.
Contenders: Gearoid Adams threw his name in the ring for the job, but that was before a vacancy arose in his native Antrim. Former Fermanagh footballer Rory Gallagher is available after parting ways with Donegal. All Star Peter McGinitty, who led Roslea to a county title this year, has also been mentioned, along with Dominic Corrigan.
Kieran McGeeney's decision to rule himself out of a dramatic return means the search has started in earnest, though some of the likely contenders, such as Glenn Ryan, have ruled themselves out.
The incoming manager is likely to have to plan without the services of one of the county's brightest young talents, as Daniel Flynn has been linked with a move to the AFL with Port Adelaide.
Contenders: Jason Ryan has left the door open after serving under McGeeney last year, while Kevin McStay, who helped Roscommon side St Brigid's to an All-Ireland club title last March, will also attract attention.
Glenn Ryan stepped down after a five- year spell in charge of the midlanders. This season saw them suffer relegation from Division 2 and lose to Wicklow and Wexford in the championship. However, key forward Brian Kavanagh is back in the country after spending some time travelling.
Contenders: Ousted Westmeath manager Pat Flanagan, who steered them to the top flight last year, was spotted at club championship games in the county, prompting speculation he could be about to take over.
Justin McNulty stepped down after his three year term expired and saw him guide the O'Moore men to an All-Ireland quarter-final in 2012.
They won nine of their 15 championship games under the Armagh man, mostly through the back door.
Contenders: Laois chairman Gary Kavanagh insists there is no rush in appointing McNulty's successor, even though the club championship is in its closing stages. He also denied there was an approach to former Roscommon goalkeeper Shane Curran.
Conor Counihan stepped down after six years in charge of the Rebels that saw him deliver silverware in each season until 2013.
A six-man committee has been set up to find Counihan's successor and any new manager may have to look into the possibility of accommodating dual players after Seanie McGrath admitted interest in the likes of Aidan Walsh and Ciaran Sheehan.
Contenders: Outgoing selector Brian Cuthbert is believed to be the favourite while former U-21 manager john Cleary and Ephie Fitzgerald have also been mentioned.
Maurice Horan resigned after three years at the helm, the highlight of which was an All-Ireland quarter-final appearance.
Contenders: There were three nominations for the role, though officials can look beyond Tom McGlinchey, Ned English and Barry Donnelly, all of whom have been interviewed.
It looks like his stint with Clare might be Mick O'Dwyer's last foray in inter-county management and it didn't have the desired effect.
Contenders: Michael Neylon, who served as a selector under O'Dwyer, ruled himself out of the job, while another member of the 2013 back-room team, Ger Keane, has also been linked with the post.
Sligo arguably find themselves in the most difficult position as they have been told by Croke Park to get a grip on their €1.5m debt and outlining a budget before pursuing a new boss.
Contenders: The process has been put on hold and tight budgets are likely to make attracting candidates difficult for the Yeats men.
A scheduled review of Anthony Cunningham's time in charge has taken place and his future could be decided at a county committee meeting.
Contenders: Cunningham has indicated a desire to remain at the helm, but he will be without Mattie Kenny, who has stepped down.
A breakthrough Munster title this season was followed by John Allen's surprise resignation and Limerick are looking for a fourth manager in five years.
Contenders: A host of big names have been linked with the job including Tipp pair Nicky English and Liam Sheedy, while Ciaran Carey has expressed a desire to manage the county at some stage. TJ Ryan was interviewed before Allen got the job and John Kiely has ruled himself out having served as a selector under Allen.
Ollie Baker stepped down after two years in charge of the midlanders after losses to Kilkenny and Waterford. Two clubs have made successive appearances in the all-Ireland club final and a decent showing against the Cats suggests there is something to work with for the new man.
Contenders: Ken Hogan is out of the running as is Martin Fogarty, but Danny Owens has declared his interest.
Michael Ryan was ousted by player power and won't be returning, despite support from around the county.
Contenders: Of the nominations by the clubs, only Derek McGrath and Peter Queally have left their names in the hat but the committee tasked with finding a successor can look elsewhere. Martin Fogarty, who served under Brian Cody, is among those linked to the post.
Eamon Phelan stepped down after leading London in the Liam MacCarthy cup after winning the Christy Ring in 2012.
Contenders: Officials maintain progress on an appointment could be concluded "in the next week."