Heading into the second campaign of his second coming (having also been in charge in 2004-2005-2006), he has presided over three All-Ireland, three NFL and two Munster title successes in four seasons. That's eight titles from a possible 12 and since Kerry won the All-Ireland in 2006 and 2009, the defeats by Cork in those seasons don't matter anymore. His big test this year is whether he can coax another major effort from some of his aging warriors.
Conor Counihan (Cork)
If he had been told in January 2008 that Cork would beat Kerry by margins of five and eight points respectively over the next two seasons, he would probably have assumed he could take his place among the small group who won All-Ireland titles as player and manager. However, as with Larry Tompkins and Billy Morgan before him, he discovered there's a massive difference between Kerry in Munster and Kerry in Croke Park. Solving that puzzle remains high among his requirements for 2010.
Mickey Harte (Tyrone)
"It's a challenge for us all. My own contribution will have to change. I can push myself harder. I can find new ways to inform our players. I can connect with them better. Are they seeing the game as we do? Are we doing enough to understand their state of mind? If 'positivity' was the key word that defined our preparations in 2009, accountability is the word for 2010. Players must prove themselves. It's about them. What are they doing? Why should they be considered serious contenders for a starting place? If that forces them to face some uncomfortable truths, then they must." -- Harte on the year ahead.
Pat Gilroy (Dublin)
His recent comments suggest that having believed last year he could squeeze something more from what has been the dominant force in Leinster since 2005, he is now starting with a blank sheet after Kerry wiped out everything in the All-Ireland quarter-final last August. Supporters are being groomed to believe that it may take a step back before real progress can be made. They won't go for that. It's nearly 15 years since Sam Maguire wintered in Dublin -- that's all that matters to the public.
Damien Cassidy (Derry)
He will have learned a lot from 2009. Derry underperformed against Tyrone in the Ulster semi-final and then lost a qualifier tie to Donegal, whose subsequent collapse against Cork didn't flatter them or any of their earlier victims. The Ulster draw hasn't done Derry any favours, handing them Armagh in a preliminary round, which means they would need to win four games to take the title for the first time since 1998.
John O'Mahony (Mayo)
This will be third campaign of his second coming with his native county and his 18th in all, having previously managed Mayo and Leitrim for four years each and Galway for seven. Winning an All-Ireland title is the only prize which will satisfy either him or Mayo supporters. So far, there has been little to suggest that much has changed in terms of the county's capacity to expand in line with the challenges.
Joe Kernan (Galway)
Every so often an appointment is made which holds a fascination beyond the county involved. This is one such case. Kernan moulded Crossmaglen Rangers and Armagh, neither of whom had all that much to show previously, into All-Ireland winning combinations and will now be trying to sprinkle his inspiration on a county with a good All-Ireland pedigree, even if they haven't shown it since 2001. Has serious work ahead.
Seamus McEnaney (Monaghan)
Few managers survive into a sixth season without landing a major title, but, in fairness to McEnaney, he has taken Monaghan to a level of consistency that deserves to be recognised by allowing him continue with his attempt to make the big breakthrough.
Kieran McGeeney (Kildare)
When Wicklow beat Kildare in McGeeney's first championship match in 2008, there were plenty in Lilywhite land who believed he wouldn't survive a second year. However, Kildare turned things around in the championship and have won six of nine games since then. McGeeney knows that it will take a Leinster title success, at least, to maintain momentum.
Eamonn O'Brien (Meath)
Meath's productive use of the qualifiers in two of the last three seasons took them to the All-Ireland semi-final, yet few actually believe that, in an overall context, they are in the top four. Nonetheless, O'Brien can feel happy enough with his first season.
John Joe Doherty (Donegal)
He took over in difficult circumstances and when Donegal were relegated to Division 2 and later lost to Antrim in Ballybofey in the first round of last year's Ulster championship, it looked as if he was facing a very difficult time. However, Donegal rattled off four wins in the qualifiers to reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals, where they lost heavily to Cork. Still, they made the last eight which was enough to give Doherty the time and space to reconfigure for the 2010 campaign.
Sean Dempsey (Laois)
He would love to strike 2009 from the record and who could blame him? Truly a dismal year, after which some in Laois wanted him replaced as if altering the manager was the answer. Under enormous pressure to raise Laois' ranking.
Paddy O'Rourke (Armagh)
It came as a surprise that in a decade in which they won the All-Ireland senior, U-21 and minor titles with local managements, Armagh would look across the border to Down and Paddy O'Rourke to steer the senior team into the next decade.
Brendan Hackett (Westmeath)
Back on the inter-county scene after a long absence, Hackett has certainly taken on a tough challenge. Westmeath were a total mess in 2009 and never came anywhere close to revisiting the peaks of previous years. Now, the big question is -- have they bottomed out or is there a further drop to come?
James McCartan (Down)
Peter McGrath was deeply upset after being overlooked for the manager's job, but that's of no concern to McCartan whose aim is to reignite a fire that has produced very little heat for a long time.
John Evans (Tipperary)
He's Mr Football in Tipperary right now, in charge of just about everything. However, the shop-window department relates to how the senior team fares after soaring from Division 4 to 2 in successive seasons. He's a serious football man, but delivers his message with impish enthusiasm which is clearly working. Got the short straw in Munster where Tipp meet Kerry with the winners playing Cork.
Kevin Walsh (Sligo)
How unlucky can a manager get in his second year after building steadily first time around? Sligo would have to beat Mayo and Galway (provided they don't do a Devon Loch against New York in the first round) to even reach the Connacht final.
Malachy O'Rourke (Fermanagh)
Two wins in 2009 was a terrible letdown after the highs of 2008 when Fermanagh were promoted to Division 2 and came so close to winning the Ulster final. O'Rourke needs to get them firing at 2008 levels.
Liam Bradley (Antrim)
Beware of second-season syndrome. It crucified Wexford and Fermanagh last year and now Antrim must guard against it after enjoying such a progressive 2009. Bradley is confident that Antrim's graph will continue an upward trend, but they will find life tougher in Division 3, while a first round Ulster championship clash with Tyrone isn't what Bradley would have wanted.
Tommy Carr (Cavan)
Cavan play Roscommon, Antrim, Louth and Wexford in their first four games in Division 3 and, frankly, they could decide how the season goes for Carr. He survived a vote of confidence (30-23) in August, but the fact that it was even tabled at the end of his first season proves how volatile the situation is in Cavan.
Fergal O'Donnell (Roscommon)
The expectations heaped on him because of the minor success were ridiculous. It was a turbulent decade for Roscommon, so O'Donnell needs time to restore stability. Meanwhile the supporters need to be patient.
Jason Ryan (Wexford)
From boom to bust in a year, Wexford will probably return to a steadier flight path this term. There was no logical explanation as to why Wexford lost so much altitude last year, but it did show how fragile confidence can be in less successful counties. Ryan needs to re-establish it this year if the benefits of 2008 aren't to be lost.
Peter Fitzpatrick (Louth)
One of the new managerial brigade for 2010, he takes over in Louth at a time of uncertainty. The momentum of 2006-2007 is gone, but they didn't enjoy much luck last year -- hence a results board which may give a less favourable impression than is actually the case.
Tom Cribbin (Offaly)
February proved a wicked month for Richie Connor last year, but Cribbin can expect less turmoil. As with Roscommon, who have turned over managers with ridiculous regularity, Offaly need to stabilise and come to terms with the reality that they are not the power they once were.
Mickey Ned O'Sullivan (Limerick)
The unluckiest manager of all in 2009? Limerick lost the Munster final and a subsequent All-Ireland qualifier by a point to Limerick and Meath respectively. Still, the Munster draw has been good to them this year, pitting them against Clare or Waterford in the semi-final. Mickey Ned will have the ambition detectors on high alert.
Mick O'Dwyer (Wicklow)
It's his fourth campaign with Wicklow, but his 33rd season in management having previously spent 15 years with Kerry, 10 with Kildare (in two terms) and four with Laois. He'll need all his wiles this year as Wicklow are now regarded as a serious threat which places them under a pressure they're not used to.
Glenn Ryan (Longford)
Last year was a tough debut season for Ryan as Longford dropped to Division 4 and then lost to Wicklow in the championship. However, their gritty performance against Kerry rescued the season.
John Owens (Waterford)
The former Tipperary star player and manager takes over from the colourful John Kiely. Ambitions for the footballers are modest among the Waterford public but the squad does have talent and it will be interesting to see if a new approach yields anything.
Mickey Moran (Leitrim)
I have always believed that Dessie Dolan senior did a fine job with Leitrim. Okay, so they didn't make a championship breakthrough similar to the 1990s, but they did well against some very strong teams. The best managers aren't always the ones who reach Croke Park in August. After all, a manager can only deal with the talent at his disposal. The 2010 Connacht draw has Leitrim on the same side as Roscommon and London, which Moran will rightly regard as a decent chance to reach the final.
Dick Mullins and
Joe Brennan (Kilkenny)
One of the most thankless jobs in football, but this pair are taking it on with real enthusiasm even if they know what lies in store right throughout the League.
Luke Dempsey (Carlow)
Dempsey came so close to making a major breakthrough with Westmeath
early in the decade, but hasn't had a chance to build on that since then as neither Longford nor Carlow have had the playing resources to climb onto the higher tiers. For all that, his enthusiasm remains undiminished.
Micheal McDermott (Clare)
Clare have dropped right down the pecking order in recent years so McDermott has a big challenge. Kilmurry-Ibrickane's success in the Munster club championship will be a boost, as is the Munster draw, which has the Banner on the same side as Waterford and Limerick.