Sunday 15 December 2019

Cribbin poised to make it third time lucky for Westmeath

Tom Cribbin
Tom Cribbin

Cliona Foley

Tom Cribbin is set to fill the last remaining inter-county managerial vacancy tonight.

He is expected to be ratified by a meeting of the Westmeath County Board which has been brought forward especially to speed up the matter.

Cribbin's appointment will bring to an end the long-running saga over the county's football manager's job which has twice already left local officials with egg on their faces after the first two men recommended for the post were rejected by local delegates.

The situation had become particularly urgent as Westmeath's footballers are due to resume training in 11 days' time, as one of the first teams who can go back to collective training under the GAA's 'closed season' rule.

The Lakemen been out of competitive action since the end of June, when they lost to Cavan, by a point, in the first round of the qualifiers.

Sought

Former Dublin footballer Paul Bealin, who only took over from Pat Flanagan this time last year, had sought a second season in charge but was rejected, by a 37-12 vote, when he was proposed to local delegates.

Then the local committee charged with finding his replacement recommended Peter Leahy, who had managed St Malachy's to an All-Ireland intermediate title.

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Even though he had put together a back-room team that reportedly included former Mayo star Liam McHale, Leahy was also rejected, but by a much narrower margin (24-19).

Former county player and selector Jack Cooney was believed to be the front-runner until Cribbin was reportedly interviewed late last week and he is expected to get the job tonight.

A native of Clane, Cribbin managed Laois in the late '90s and most recently managed Offaly for three years, from 2009-11.

He has managed Clane and Edenderry to club titles in the past and also managed the Kildare minors. His most recent role was as an U-21 selector with the Lilywhites in the past year.

It may still be two months away from the new inter-county season but eight football squads will resume full collective training for 2015 on November 15.

Westmeath are in the first tranche of teams allowed back under the GAA's 'closed season' rules which now staggers teams' returns, based on when they exited the All-Ireland Championship.

Teams who were knocked out during June are entitled to return to training on Saturday week.

Last season's beaten Division 1 finalists Derry are surprisingly among them, due to their shock early exit from the Championship at Longford's hands. Also among the first back are Offaly, Louth, Leitrim, Waterford, Fermanagh and London.

The next return date is December 1, for the 16 football teams who exited the Championship during July: Meath, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow, Cavan, Down, Tyrone, Antrim, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Roscommon and Sligo.

Teams knocked out in August - beaten in the All-Ireland quarter- and semi-finals - are allowed back on December 8, and that includes the footballers of Galway, Cork, Armagh, Monaghan, Dublin and Mayo.

Dublin are fielding a team for the upcoming Anto Finnegan-inspired fundraiser for Motor Neuron Disease against an Ulster selection at Ulster rugby's headquarters in Ravenhill on Saturday, November 15.

But there is no truth in reports that they have received special permission to return to training earlier as a result, and they are not resuming until December 8.

Under Rule 6:43 teams who are involved in the All-Ireland finals cannot return to training until December 29 - that includes Kerry and Donegal's footballers and the hurlers of Kilkenny and Tipperary.

Irish Independent

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