Sunday 16 December 2018

Cunningham upbeat about Rossies switch

Cunningham: “I love the GAA, that’s my hobby, my past-time, my passion and that hasn’t changed.” Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cunningham: “I love the GAA, that’s my hobby, my past-time, my passion and that hasn’t changed.” Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

New Roscommon boss Anthony Cunningham says he doesn't envisage any difficulty switching from hurling to football management.

The former All-Ireland winner with Galway in 1987 and '88, who has lived in Roscommon for most of his adult life, said he is looking forward to building on the progress achieved by Kevin McStay.

Cunningham, who guided the St Brigid's club in Kiltoom, where he lives, to Connacht glory and then did the same with Westmeath's Garrycastle in Leinster, said there is little difference between managing a hurling team and a football one.

"I've had a good run at the football as well, quite a lot of football. It was probably a change for me when I had go back to the hurling.

"Now I have to make the change back again but management and management set-ups, coaching, preparation, working with counties, with clubs and all that, is very similar.

"We will have to work on a style of play as well and develop that. But that's what you do with your management team and I hope that I'm well-versed in that and have the management experience from other counties.

"I did a small bit with Laois as well a few years ago, Dublin hurlers last year and even in that environment with Pat Gilroy I got to know the Dublin footballers as well."

Cunningham was in charge of Galway's hurlers for four years before being ousted in a player heave after reaching the 2015 All-Ireland final but he said he had no hesitation in getting back into management.

"I would never ever have said no, I'd be the opposite and I think it similar to a player if he has a bad game or if he has an area of improvement that he has to work on, you take that on the chin and go on.

"For me it was very enjoyable in Galway, four years there, and tremendous satisfaction as well that they went on and won an All-Ireland after that.

"You can do one or two things, you can go home and sit in the corner or you can go out and get involved in the sport that you love.

"I love the GAA, that's my hobby, my past-time, my passion and that hasn't changed."

The task facing Cunningham was laid bare in Hyde Park yesterday when he witnessed Roscommon champions Clann na nGael being hammered by 27 points, but he said he is looking forward to the challenge.

"It's a clean start for everybody and we will look at every player. I follow the club football in Roscommon quite closely and the backroom team will as well.

Training

"We will be getting our heads down now when we're allowed back to full-time training in December.

"It's going to be highly, highly competitive. We are working away on our backroom team and will outline the backroom team to the players when we meet at the end of the month."

Cunningham was being linked to the Dublin hurling job when Gilroy stepped down but he said he had no issue with Mattie Kenny, a former selector of his with Galway, getting the job.

"It was really enjoyable last year but that's closed for me. It's ongoing for me what's the next challenge. Dublin chose a new man with Mattie Kenny so we wish them the best of luck for the year ahead. That's the prerogative of county board," he added.

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