Crokes is a surprise move for Anthony Daly but not a journey that is unprecedented
The Rocky Road to Dublin awaits Anthony Daly, named manager of Kilmacud Crokes in a surprise move.
After six years as Dublin manager, and having spent some time working as a tv and radio pundit for RTE, it is a journey that he is well accustomed to making, but the news still has people marvelling at the distance involved for a club appointment.
While the GAA would naturally prefer a Utopian world where each club and county produces its own homegrown coaches and mentors, the reality is that many look, often out of necessity, beyond their own parish.
In some cases, even where a huge club like Kilmacud Crokes is involved, it can be virtually impossible find anyone to fit the two key criteria: being sufficiently qualified to do the job; and having the time to do it.
Crokes are understandably keen to challenge All-Ireland champions and neighbours Cuala who have been dominating the Dublin championship, winning the last three senior titles including wins over Crokes in the last two senior finals.
Cuala have employed the services of Galway’s Mattie Kenny, so Crokes are not alone in casting the net wide. They last won the senior championship in 2014 under Daly’s predecessor, another Clare man, Ollie Baker.
Daly isn’t the first to clock up the miles in pursuit of a management role. Here are three others managers who travelled great distances in the call of duty.
A trail-blazer in 1970 when he was invited to coach the Antrim hurlers then looking to win the All-Ireland intermediate title, which they did. McCarthy had been a brilliant hurler for Cork but suffered a serous injury the previous year and turned his attention to coaching at 25, when Antrim made a surprise offer.
He had never been in the North before. On his first trip he was collected by two Antrim officers at Connolly train station and driven across the border, staying in Belfast for a few nights before taking the first training session in Loughgiel.
They trained for most of the week for the quarter final against Galway in Ballinasloe the following Sunday. From his home in Passage to the Antrim Glens was a journey of around 300 miles.
At the time the Troubles made any journey across the border a potentially treacherous experience. A few years later McCarthy drove regularly to Clare to coach the hurlers, facing his own native Cork in Munster finals. The poor roads at the time made for a slow and torturous journey.
No stranger to the road, and perhaps the most famous of the trekkers when clocking up huge mileage going from Waterville in south Kerry to the Wicklow football heartland.
He took up the Wicklow post aged 70, 11 years ago. O’Dwyer claimed that he didn’t mind driving, in fact he loved the solitude as it gave him peace and time to think.
For Wicklow the almost five-hour journey led to much improved performances in the championship, and some memorable wins notably in the qualifiers.
He stayed for five seasons. He claimed that the former county chairman John Bailey once offered him the Dublin job which he declined. “I love driving,” he once explained. “I’m happy behind the wheel.”
Took over Antrim in 2002, and made weekly trips from Cloughjordan in north Tipp to Belfast and the Glens, a round trip of over 400 miles. He left in 2005, looked after Laois of a spell and then returned to Antrim for a second stint in 2009.
He left again in 2011. The furthest north Cahill had been before taking on the Antrim job was Clones. He described managing Antrim as “a form of madness but I enjoyed it”. He said he left one day early from work and the journey to training took seven hours.