Sport GAA

Thursday 19 September 2019

Breaking down the new managers at the helm for 2019 football and hurling championships

Return of Horan and Sheedy also adds to sideline intrigue

Liam Sheedy, Anthony Cunningham and Peter Keane
Liam Sheedy, Anthony Cunningham and Peter Keane
Kerry boss Peter Keane knows only All-Ireland victory counts as success in the Kingdom. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

One of the busiest closed seasons for many years sees no fewer than 12 managerial turnovers in football while there have been some high-profile changes in hurling too, with Liam Sheedy taking over from Michael Ryan in Tipperary, Pádraig Fanning succeeding Derek McGrath in Waterford and Mattie Kenny replacing Pat Gilroy in Dublin.

The appointment of Anthony Cunningham in Roscommon last night completed the football line-up. Cunningham was understood to be in contention for the Dublin hurling job after filling a coaching role under Gilroy this year, but the position went to another Galwayman, Mattie Kenny.

It left Roscommon free to approach Cunningham, who will become the third new manager in Division 1 alongside Peter Keane and James Horan.



Previous experience: None at inter-county level but presiding over three All-Ireland minor successes (2016-'18) was enough to convince the power-brokers that he was the right man to launch a new phase in the county.

Where are Kerry at? Heading for transition after failing to reach the All-Ireland semi-final for only the third time in this Millennium. A lot of new blood will flow through the squad's veins next year.

What's success? Winning the All-Ireland title. Nothing else counts in the Kingdom. There will be added pressure next year as they would hate to see Dublin become the first county to complete the five-in-a-row, a prize that eluded Kerry in tantalising circumstances in 1982.

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Previous experience: Managed Mayo for four seasons (2011-'14), during which they won four Connacht titles and reached the All-Ireland final twice, losing to Donegal in 2012 and to Dublin in 2013.

Where are Mayo at? Who knows? They came closer than anybody to beating Dublin in recent years but the age profile of the team suggests their best days are behind them while doubts persist about the quality of the replacements.

What's success? After failing to win any of 11 All-Ireland finals (nine defeats, two draws) in the last 29 years and with no title going their way since 1951, success will be measured solely by whether Sam Maguire heads for Castlebar.


Previous experience: Worked with Pat Gilroy in Dublin hurling this year, having managed Galway in 2012-2015. He previously led St Brigid's (Roscommon) and Garrycastle (Westmeath) to Connacht and Leinster club football titles respectively.

Where are Roscommon at? Despite the post-championship upheaval, the reality is that Roscommon were a 'Super 8s' side last summer, having earlier ensured they would be a top-eight league team next year when winning Division 2.

What's success? Retaining their place in Division 1 and getting back to the 'Super 8s'.


Previous experience: After looking to Tyrone (Mattie McGleenan) last time, Cavan have shopped local, handing the job to Graham who is stepping up to senior inter-county level for the first time. He has led Mullinalaghta to three successive Longford club titles and tomorrow they bid for a place in the Leinster semi-final when they play Rhode.

Where are Cavan at? Back in Division 1, their league form in recent years suggests they are a top-ten team. However, that rating is not borne out in the championship.

What's success? Staying in Division 1 and improving on a dismal Ulster Championship record which has returned only one win in the last five seasons. Next year's draw has handed them a tough first round clash with Monaghan.


Previous experience: The Tyrone man takes the No 1 job at inter-county level for the first time, having previously coached Tyrone, Down, Derry and, most recently, Galway.

Where are Down at? Their stock is low, having dropped into Division 3 last spring before making no impression in Ulster or the qualifiers.

What's success? Getting out of Division 3 is the first priority but the real judgement will come in the championship, where they haven't kept pace with Ulster's top sides.


Previous experience: He has progressed from minor to U-20 to senior manager very quickly.

Where are Louth at? Relegated from Division 2 last spring, their only win from ten league and championship games this year was against London in the qualifiers.

What's success? Getting out of Division 3 would be a positive start. After that, they face Wexford in the first round of the Leinster Championship, with Dublin awaiting the winners, so Louth look certain to be in the first round of the qualifiers.

PáDRAIC DAVIS (Longford)

Previous experience: This is his first senior inter-county job but he worked with Glenn Ryan during his term at the helm and later managed Longford U-21s.

Where are Longford at? Dublin mauling apart, this year was encouraging. They were very unlucky to miss out on promotion to Division 2 and later beat Meath in the Leinster Championship.

What's success? Getting out of Division 3 and building on the championship promise of this year.

JACK COONEY (Westmeath)

Previous experience: The first local man to manage the county for a long time, he steps up to the top job at inter-county level for the first time, having previously worked with Páidí ó Sé in Westmeath and Rory Gallagher in Donegal.

Where are Westmeath at? They are better than this year's championship losses to Laois and Armagh suggest so it's a good time to be taking over.

What's success? Promotion from Division 3 - which is within their capabilities - would be a good start.


Previous experience: New to the senior inter-county scene, one of the county's longest-serving players gained sideline experience when working with Kevin Walsh during his spell as Sligo manager. Taylor managed Sligo U-21s last year.

Where are Sligo at? The tables don't lie - 2019 will be their eighth successive season in Division 3.

What's success? Promotion to Division 2 would be a great start for Taylor, but it seems a tall order for a squad that won only three of ten league and championship games this year.


Previous experience: No manager in any division can match him on that front, having also managed Clare, Mayo (two different terms), Fermanagh and Roscommon.

Where are Offaly at? Derry's defeat and Offaly's win over Westmeath on the last day of the league saved them from relegation to Division 4. Faced managerial upheaval in the championship when Paul Rouse replaced Stephen Wallace.

What's success? Maughan is an excellent appointment, but he needs to be given time to bring stability in a county not noted for its patience. Challenging for promotion to Division 2 would be a good start.

BENJI WHELAN (Waterford)

Previous experience: This is his first exposure to the senior inter-county scene, but he has extensive experience at club level.

Where are Waterford at? Stuck in Division 4, but got a good boost last summer when beating Wexford.

What's success? Getting into the top half of Division 4 and avoiding big defeats in the Munster Championship and All-Ireland qualifiers.


Previous experience: He had a lengthy stretch as Cavan U-21 and senior manager.

Where are Leitrim at? Permanent tenants in Division 4 and well off the pace by comparison with Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in Connacht.

What's success? A top-four finish in Division 4 and a win in the qualifiers (it's most unlikely they will beat Roscommon in the Connacht Championship).


LIAM SHEEDY (Tipperary)

Previous experience: 2010 is still fondly recalled in Tipperary when he led them to their first All-Ireland title for nine years.

Where are Tipperary at? Not in the top three in Munster, if this year's championship is the yardstick by which they are measured. Of course, the margins were very tight among all five counties so Tipp have as much reason as any of the others to be confident that 2019 will be a good year. The intriguing question is what changes Sheedy will introduce after being out of the managerial scene for nine years.

What's success? Only All-Ireland success will satisfy a very demanding Tipp public.


Previous experience: This is his first shot at senior inter-county management, but he did have backroom roles with Wexford, Waterford and Laois at various stages in recent seasons.

Where are Waterford at? Relegated to 1B this year before failing to make the top three in Munster. Both are misleading as Waterford only dropped out of 1A after a play-off and were severely hampered by injuries during the summer. The gods can hardly be as cruel again.

What's success? Getting out of 1B (although it won't be easy as Galway and Dublin are other big beasts in the group) and finishing in the top three in Munster are the top priorities.


Previous experience: First senior county job but worked with Anthony Cunningham in Galway and led Cuala to two All-Ireland club titles in 2017-'18.

Where are Dublin at? Probably better placed than finishing fourth in 1B and in the Leinster round robin suggests. They lost to Kilkenny, Wexford and Galway by a total of five points.

What's success? Finishing in the top three in Leinster, which would keep them in the All-Ireland race.


Previous experience: It's his first venture into senior management after being in charge of Kilkenny U-21s in 2016 and 2017.

Where are Laois at? They had a disappointing year, avoiding relegation to 2A on a play-off before finishing fourth of six on the Joe McDonagh Cup table. Brennan has lots to do.

What's success? Finishing fourth in 1B (behind Dublin, Galway, Waterford) is the best they can hope for, but they have a much better chance of making progress in the McDonagh Cup.

JOE QUAID (Westmeath)

Previous experience: The Limerick man heads for Westmeath, having managed Kildare for the past three seasons.

Where are Westmeath at? They lost the Division 2A and Joe McDonagh Cup finals this year, underlining how close they are to joining the top tiers.

What's success? Winning 2A and/or the Joe McDonagh Cup.

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