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Rossies opt for Cunningham as new boss



Coach Anthony Cunningham. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Coach Anthony Cunningham. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Coach Anthony Cunningham. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Anthony Cunningham's appointment in Roscommon completes football's managerial line-up for 2019, a season that will see sideline changes in 12 counties.

Having led Galway hurlers for four seasons (2012-'15), he joins a small group who have managed at senior inter-county level in both codes.

He worked with Dublin hurlers under Pat Gilroy this year and was believed to be in contention to take over when a vacancy arose, but the job went to his fellow Galway man Mattie Kenny.

Kenny was a selector under Cunningham when Galway won the 2012 Leinster hurling title and reached the All-Ireland final, where they lost to Kilkenny in a replay.

Cunningham also has extensive experience as a football manager, having led St Brigid's (Roscommon) and Garrycastle (Westmeath) to senior provincial club titles.

His appointment ends a period of uncertainty in Roscommon following the departure of Kevin McStay.

Former Armagh All-Ireland winner Aidan O'Rourke was believed to be on the verge of taking over but it fell through, and last night Cunningham was handed a two-year term.

Elsewhere, Karl Lacey has made a shock U-turn and rejoined the Donegal backroom team after parting ways with Declan Bonner's set-up last month citing family commitments.

The former Footballer of the Year retired from the inter-county game at the end of 2017 before immediately stepping into management and was widely praised for his work under Bonner as football coach last season.

Bonner's side secured Ulster honours with a series of scintillating displays but were rocked by Lacey's departure, only for the high-profile appointment of former Mayo boss Stephen Rochford to fill the vacancy.

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Four Masters clubman Lacey - a lecturer in Letterkenny IT - was linked with a coaching role under Aidan O'Rourke in Roscommon before that broke down and "preferred candidate" O'Rourke withdrew his name after "unexpected doubts in relation to Lacey's availability as head coach".

With Rochford and Lacey working in tandem and ace attacker Paddy McBrearty expected to return in the spring from a cruciate knee ligament injury, these are exciting times for Donegal as they look to close the gap on All-Ireland champions Dublin.

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