Sunday 22 July 2018

Changing of the guard - We run the rule over the 15 inter-county managerial appointments

Pat Gilroy’s appointment as Dublin hurling manager is a fascinating move. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Pat Gilroy’s appointment as Dublin hurling manager is a fascinating move. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

If further proof were needed that the team managerial environment is becoming increasingly volatile, it comes in the number of counties which will be under new leadership in 2018.

Football has seen no fewer than 12 changes since the end of the championship while in hurling's Liam MacCarthy Cup tier Cork, Dublin and Offaly have signed on for new regimes.

FOOTBALL

RONAN McCARTHY

(CORK)

A first inter-county managerial posting for McCarthy, who previously served as a selector under Conor Counihan and Brian Cuthbert. He becomes Cork's third manager in four seasons, quite a change from previous times when Billy Morgan, Larry Tompkins and Conor Counihan were in charge for 26 years between them.

STARTING POINT: Cork finished fourth in Division 2 this year before losing to Kerry (11 points) and Mayo (one point after extra-time) in the championship. There's a lot more to Cork than what they have shown in recent years so McCarthy takes over at a good time.

DECLAN BONNER

(DONEGAL)

The 1992 All-Ireland medal winner replaces Rory Gallagher and returns to the post for a second time, having previously been in charge from 1997 to 2000. He has since picked up valuable experience with the minors and U-21s.

STARTING POINT: Donegal finished third in Division 1 this year but bombed in the championship, losing to Tyrone and Galway by a combined total of 24 points. "We have become too one-dimensional and too predictable.," said Bonner after his appointment. "A lot of things will have to change."

RORY GALLAGHER

(FERMANAGH)

After three years as Donegal manager, having previously been assistant to Jim McGuinness, he returns to his native county to replace Pete McGrath.

STARTING POINT: Fermanagh were relegated from Division 2 last April and lost heavily to Monaghan and Armagh in the championship. Player unrest led to McGrath's departure, with the deposed manager suggesting that some of the squad were unhappy at being taken out of their comfort zone. It sounds like Gallagher has quite a job ahead of him.

CATHAL COREY

(SLIGO)

From Kildress in Tyrone, he replaces Niall Carew in what will be his first inter-county assignment. He has lots of managerial experience on the club circuit and was linked with the Donegal job before it went to Declan Bonner.

STARTING POINT: Sligo are in Division 3, having finished fourth this year before losing to Mayo and Meath in the championship.

DAMIAN McERLAIN

(DERRY)

Damien Barton's replacement makes his first venture into senior inter-county management, having steered the minors to this year's All-Ireland final where they lost to Kerry.

STARTING POINT: Derry were relegated to Division 3 last April and later lost heavily to Tyrone in the Ulster championship. They did much better in the qualifiers, taking Mayo to extra-time in Castlebar in the second round. That performance showed the real potential in the squad so McErlain has plenty to work on.

LENNY HARBINSON

(ANTRIM)

He takes over from Frank Fitzsimons and Gearoid Adams in what is his first venture at senior inter-county level. He comes with a good pedigree, having steered St Gall's to All-Ireland club success in 2010.

STARTING POINT: Relegated to Division 4 last April and later lost to Donegal and Sligo in the championships. They are second favourites behind Laois to make a quick return to Division 3.

PETE McGRATH

(LOUTH)

He thought he would heading into a fifth season as Fermanagh manager but resigned after player unrest. Fermanagh's loss is Louth's gain as the former double All-Ireland winner with Down (1991, '94) will bring vast experience and commitment to the challenge.

STARTING POINT: Ironically, Louth will replace Fermanagh in Division 2, having won promotion last April. They lost to Meath and Longford in the championship, the latter defeat being especially disappointing as they were beaten by eight points in Drogheda in the qualifiers.

COLIN KELLY

(WESTMEATH)

He led Louth from Divisions 4 to 2 in successive seasons but quit after this year's championship. However, he wasn't idle for long with Westmeath calling on him to replace Tom Cribbin.

STARTING POINT: Promoted to Division 3 last April, Westmeath lost to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final and to Armagh in the qualifiers.

JOHN EVANS

(WICKLOW)

Wicklow did very well with their last Kerry-born manager (Mick O'Dwyer) - can Evans have a similar impact? Johnny Magee's replacement brings a lot of experience to the job, having previously managed Tipperary and Roscommon, steering the latter to Division 1.

STARTING POINT: Results this year leave them ranked 31st after a season where they won only one of nine League and Championship games, finishing seventh of eight in Division 4 before losing to Louth and Laois in the championship.

PAUL McLOUGHLIN

(WEXFORD)

A new man at the helm for a second successive year after Seamus McEnaney stood down after one season, McLoughlin is in his first senior inter-county job. He worked with Jason Ryan and Aidan O'Brien during their terms in charge and also managed the Wexford minors. He enjoyed a long playing career with Kildare and is now based in Rosslare.

STARTING POINT: Wexford were promoted to Division 3 last April but had a disappointing championship, losing to Carlow in Leinster and to Monaghan by 18 points in the qualifiers.

JOHN SUGRUE

(LAOIS)

The Kerry native, who is now based in Portlaoise, takes over from Peter Creedon. He worked as physio with Laois during Justin McNulty's term in charge and has managerial experience on the club scene in Kerry. Next year will be the third successive season that Laois have a new manager, with Mick Lillis (2016) and Peter Creedon (2017) each resigning after one campaign. It points to a level of dysfunction that needs to be addressed.

STARTING POINT: Laois were relegated to Division 4 last April and bombed against Kildare and Clare in the championship. Sugrue is facing an enormous challenge in a county that has lost its way.

STEPHEN WALLACE

(OFFALY)

The Kerryman takes over from Pat Flanagan, having led his native county to All-Ireland junior titles in 2015 and 2016. He also managed his home club, Ardfert, to an All-Ireland intermediate title in 2015.

STARTING POINT: Offaly finished fifth in Division 3 this year before losing to Westmeath and Cavan in the championship. They have won only one Leinster SFC game in the last ten seasons, a dismal return for a county with a such a glorious past.

HURLING

JOHN MEYLER

(CORK)

A natural fit to replace Kieran Kingston, having been part of the senior management this year as well as managing the U-21s. A vastly experienced campaigner, having previously been in charge of Kerry, Wexford and Carlow, he is well-placed to build on this season's achievements.

STARTING POINT: Expectations have risen sharply on Leeside. Reigning Munster champions, there's still a view in Cork that if Damien Cahalane had not been sent off against Waterford in the All-Ireland semi-final, they might well be champions now.

PAT GILROY

(DUBLIN)

The most interesting of all the new managerial appointments, it will be fascinating to see how the 2011 All-Ireland football-winning manager fares in small ball land. Bringing in Anthony Cunningham is a smart call for a project that needs to be given time.

STARTING POINT: Dublin were relegated to 1B last April but that's largely irrelevant since Galway came out of this group to win League and All-Ireland titles. Being in 1B will give Gilroy more room to experiment than if Dublin were in 1A.

KEVIN MARTIN

(OFFALY)

The dual All-Ireland medal winner (1994, '98) becomes the third Offaly manager in three years after Eamonn Kelly and Kevin Ryan each lasted only one season. Martin previously managed Westmeath.

STARTING POINT: Offaly won only two of seven League and Championship games this year. Martin's first big challenge will be to keep them in the Liam MacCarthy Cup tier for 2018.

Irish Independent

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