Friday 24 November 2017

Sligo determined not to lose Walsh to Galway

Marie Crowe and DAMIAN LAWLOR

SLIGO manager Kevin Walsh is the favoured choice among the majority of the current Galway squad to be their next manager following the departure last week of Joe Kernan.

However, Sligo are determined to hold onto Walsh, one of the best young managers in the game and the undoubted first choice to fill the Galway hotseat.

Several of Walsh's Sligo squad have already made contact with him to persuade him to stay, amid fears that his departure could lead to the break-up of the team.

"I would say that if Kevin stays on there will be no-one leaving but if he doesn't I would say that there could be at least three retirements," said captain Charlie Harrison.

"We are all absolutely mad about Kevin as a team. I rang him myself and told him that everyone was behind him 150 per cent.

"He knows the way we are feeling, he knows the county board are firmly behind him and as far as I'm concerned Kevin Walsh is still the Sligo manager. And I'd be very hopeful he will remain so.

"He built us up from nowhere two years ago and we did everything he asked of us. He has the complete respect of every player on the panel and the manner in which we hold him is astonishing

"He could go to Galway where there will be immediate pressure of winning an All Ireland title but he won't have that with us. Our goal is still to win a Connacht title."

The Galway native, a former All Star midfielder, has already led the team to back-to-back promotions, meaning that Sligo will play in Division 2 of next year's National League.

But, the Sunday Independent understands that the Galway job is Walsh's to turn down. Senior players believe that the former All Star midfielder will have first refusal.

However, it is also understood that a majority of the squad favoured Kernan staying on and are unhappy that they are facing into a fourth manager in three years.

Kernan replaced Liam Sammon last September, but his reign proved hugely disappointing as Galway crashed out of the championship in the second round of the qualifiers to Wexford.

Sources within the camp have claimed that the players were anxious to have Kernan continue at the helm for another season.

"We are sick of all the chopping and changing. Managers need two or three seasons to get to grips with a team and Joe didn't get that," said the source.

Should Walsh opt to continue as Sligo manager, it is thought former Kerry midfielder Darragh ó Sé could be a shock contender for the position. Last month, ó Sé was linked with the vacant Laois job.

Elsewhere, Peter Canavan has ruled himself out of the running for the Fermanagh job, but hasn't closed the door on managing another county or eventually taking over Tyrone.

In an interview with Setanta due to be screened tomorrow night, the current Errigal Ciarán boss revealed he would look at other options if the right one came along, but that he would not contemplate managing his native county so long as Mickey Harte wants to remain in charge.

Sunday Independent

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