Saturday 24 August 2019

Donoghue to stay with Tribe hurlers until at least 2021 after extending reign

Micheál Donoghue: Vote of confidence from Galway County Board chiefs. Photo: Sportsfile
Micheál Donoghue: Vote of confidence from Galway County Board chiefs. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Galway hurling boss Micheál Donoghue has been handed a two-year contract extension and is set to lead the Tribesmen in 2020 and beyond as they bid to bounce back from their earliest championship exit in over half a century.

Donoghue, who took charge in late 2015 after a player revolt ended Anthony Cunningham's reign, was given an extra season late last year and now it has emerged that his contract was extended just before the start of this summer's championship.

Galway county committee chairman Pat Kearney outlined how Tribe chiefs offered Clarinbridge clubman Donoghue an extension until the end of the 2021 season after this year's league and prior to the start of the championship.

"Micheál has two years to go, but there will have to be discussions about it. We have already talked to Micheál about various things for next year and we will be continuing that over the next week or two," Kearney said.

"But Micheál was offered an extension of two years of his term three months ago, before the championship started, and he accepted that."

Galway's indifferent league form continued into the championship and an unconvincing win over Carlow at Pearse Stadium - which ultimately cost them on scoring difference - was followed by a draw against Wexford at the Salthill venue.

But Galway, beaten by a point by Limerick in last year's All-Ireland final when chasing back-to-back Liam MacCarthy Cup successes, suggested they were set for another serious All-Ireland bid when scoring a superb defeat of Kilkenny in Nowlan Park, a first home championship defeat for the Cats in 70 years.

However, a heartbreaking loss away to a Dublin side managed by Galway native Mattie Kenny - a candidate when Donoghue got the job - in Parnell Park and a draw between Kilkenny and Wexford that same evening meant that the Tribesmen were out of the 2019 championship due to inferior scoring difference after the four top teams in Leinster finished on five points each.

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Kearney described the exit as "a hiccup" and Galway will be hoping that underage success, which saw minor titles in three of the last four years, will bear fruit in the coming years.

But they have struggled to successfully bring talent through to the senior set-up. Galway have not won the U-21/U-20 All-Ireland title since 2011 and were only in the final once since then, while a side which won the minor crown in 2017 was beaten by Kilkenny in the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U-20 semi-final earlier this week.

Donoghue's first championship season ended with a semi-final defeat to Tipperary in 2016 but he guided Galway to their first All-Ireland since 1988 when they defeated Waterford in the final two years ago.

Their hopes of retaining the title came up short against Limerick last August when injury and fatigue seemed to take their toll at the latter stages of the summer and Kearney is confident that Donoghue will remain in charge despite this year's disappointing campaign.

"Obviously there are discussions around it but we want Micheál to stay on and look it, it's only a hiccup along the line.

"He's indicated he's staying on and he has been ratified for another two years," Kearney added.

Donoghue and Galway must watch on from afar this summer as it comes to the business end of the hurling year.

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