Saturday 24 February 2018

Managers assessed - how new recruits have fared up to now

Kevin McStay/Fergal O’Donnell duet singing the sweetest tune in football while Ciaran Carey doing best of newcomers in hurling hot seats

Ciaran Carey has made a huge impact since taking over as manager of Kerry's hurlers (SPORTSFILE)
Ciaran Carey has made a huge impact since taking over as manager of Kerry's hurlers (SPORTSFILE)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The stresses of management have already claimed an early victim, with PJ O'Mullan having quit Antrim a few months into his first term.

It's another blow to an Antrim hurling landscape which, on the inter-county scene at least, is becoming increasingly barren.

O'Mullan was among the new batch of managers who started out this season with their own range of ambitions, depending on where they were starting on the grid.

Now, it's all over for him after a disappointing league campaign where Antrim fourth of six in 2A.

He was one of many managers who are in their first season. Ultimately, they will be judged on the championship, especially those at the top end of the market like Stephen Rochford (Mayo), Micheál Donoghue (Galway), Peadar Healy and Kieran Kingston (both Cork).

Here's a league report card for the new managers (all divisions in football; Division 1 in hurling)


Stephen Rochford (Mayo)

5th Div 1 (P7, W3, L4)

He will be delighted to have retained Division 1 status after a turbulent start where Mayo lost their first three games. Rochford's appointment came quite late due to his involvement with Corofin and he also had to deal from a weakened hand due to injuries and club commitments for much of the league. In those circumstances, three wins from the last four games will have pleased him before the championship work gets under way.

Rating - 6

Kevin McStay/Fergal O'Donnell (Roscommon)

3rd Div 1 (P7, W4, 3)

Roscommon are the big success story of the league. Regarded pre-season as most likely to be relegated with Down, the away wins over Cork, Kerry and Donegal electrified the county and now Roscommon are heading for Croke Park and a semi-final clash. It's very much a case of setting and reaching high targets. So far so very good on an exciting adventure.

Rating - 9

Peader Healy (Cork)

7th Div 1 (P7, W3, L4)

Donegal reached the semi-final with six points, while Cork were relegated off the same mark. Big defeats by Roscommon and Donegal undermined Cork in a campaign where they did nothing to suggest they have corrected the defensive problems of last year. Healy has a lot to figure out pre-championship.

Rating - 5

Eamonn Burns (Down)

8th Div 1 (P7, L7)

A spirited performance against Mayo last Sunday gave some cause for optimism, which was badly needed after six defeats by an average of almost 10 points per game. The contrast between Down and Roscommon, the two promoted counties this season, was truly stark. Down need a massive improvement to have any chance against Monaghan in the Ulster SFC clash with Monaghan on June 5.

Rating - 4

Damien Barton (Derry)

6th Div 2 (P7, W2, D2, L3)

Having dropped from Division 1 last year, they were fancied to be strong contenders for a quick return but despite scoring an average of 2-12, they won only two games. But then they did concede an average of 1-16.

Rating - 5

Mick Lillis (Laois)

8th Div 2 (P7, W1, D1, L5)

Dropping to Division 3 is a bad start, as it's territory Laois would not expect to visit. But then they won only once and conceded 11-103 in seven games, the highest in all four divisions.

Rating - 4

Denis Connerton (Longford)

4th Div 3 (P7, W4, L3)

A solid start for Connerton, who is in his second spell as Longford manager. One of three counties on eight points, Longford missed out on promotion due to their inferior scoring difference. Still, they made progress after coming up from Division 4 and will head for summer action in good order.

Rating - 7

Liam Kearns (Tipperary)

6th Div 3 (P7, W2, D3, L2)

A frustrating start as Tipperary lost only two games while drawing three others. In fairness to Kearns, the list of unavailable players, especially at the start of the season, was one of the longest in the country and has to be taken into account.

Rating - 6

Cuian O'Neill (Kildare)

1st Div 3 (P7, W6, L1)

First target reached - Kildare are on their way back to Division 2. Promotion was the minimum expectation for so O'Neill's work is only beginning. Still, it's off a solid base..

Rating - 8

Ciaran Deely (London)

8th Div 4 (P7, W1, L6)

Given London's range of disadvantages, one wins and three close calls will leave Deely feeling relatively pleased.

Rating - 6


Micheál Donoghue (Galway)

5th Div 1A (P6, W1, D2, L3) - Relegated

Even allowing for injuries, which weakened the squad, relegation is a setback for the new manager. Galway scored enough to do better but the defensive fragility continues.

Rating - 5

Kieran Kingston (Cork)

6th Div 1A (P6, W1, L5)

Last Sunday's win over Galway keeps Cork in 1A but can't disguise the problems facing Kingston after a league where they conceded an average of almost 29 points per game.

Rating - 5

Michael Ryan (Tipperary)

4th Div 1A (P6, W2, D1, L3)

A mixed start for Ryan, leaving the jury unable to reach a verdict until they see more evidence.

Rating - 6

Ciarán Carey (Kerry)

5th 1B (P6, W3, L3)

A real success story for Carey as Kerry ignored predictions of a quick return to 2A .

Rating - 8

Eamonn Kelly (Offaly)

4th 1B (P6, W2, L4)

A heavy defeat to Kilkenny is of less concern than the earlier setback at home against Kerry, whom Offaly will meet again in the Leinster 'round robin' where Westmeath and Carlow will also be vying for two qualification places. It's new territory for Offaly.

Rating - 5

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