big decision | 

The big questions in GAA heading into a barren few months

Replacing Brian Cody is akin to taking over from Alex Ferguson at Manchester United
Liam Cahill

Liam Cahill© SPORTSFILE

Sean McGoldrickSunday World

Here’s a sobering thought for all GAA columnists.

There are about 25 weekly columns to be filed between now and the next meaningful inter-county fixture. The task of filling them will require a lot of creative thinking.

We will start with a subject which is topical. By the time the new season begins in January, at least 11 counties will have a new football manager while as many of five of the Liam MacCarthy Cup contenders will have new bosses.

We don’t know the definitive figure in either code yet as some of the outgoing managers haven’t publicly indicated whether they are staying on.

The highest profile of the undecided is Dublin football boss Dessie Farrell, though the latest indications are that he will remain at the helm in 2023.

Here’s a quick guide to what we know:

FOOTBALL

Counties Seeking a new boss: Donegal, Down, Monaghan, Longford, Offaly, Wexford, Roscommon and Mayo

Counties who have already appointed a new manager: Antrim, Meath and Cork

In the case of Antrim, Andy McEntee - who stepped down as Meath boss after they lost to Clare in the All-Ireland qualifiers - had taken over from ex-Tyrone All-Ireland medallist Enda McGinley.

In Meath, two-time All-Ireland medallist Colm O’Rourke will manage the senior team next season. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the position on a number of occasions in the past. This time around he was approached by the selection committee and accepted the offer.

Given his profile in the Sunday Independent it was almost inconceivable that he wouldn’t manage Meath at some point. Barry Callaghan and Stephen Bray will be his selectors and the new team are now assembling the all-important backroom team.

As expected, John Cleary – who had been acting Cork football boss in the latter half of this season – was confirmed as the new manager after the incumbent boss Keith Ricken stepped down for health reasons.

HURLING

Counties seeking a new boss: Waterford and Dublin. Offaly and Mayo, neither involved in the premier competition the Liam MacCarthy Cup, are also on the look-out for new managers in 2023

Counties who have appointed a new manager: Kilkenny, Tipperary, and Cork

Self-evidently, the Cork GAA Board have already lined up Kieran Kingston’s replacement because soon after he indicated that he wouldn’t be seeking another term his replacement Pat Ryan had been appointed.

The instalment of Liam Cahill as the new Tipperary boss has been the most controversial appointment of the season.

Last year Cahill, who had a successfully career as a manager at under-age level in his native county, declined an offer to manage the Premier County’s senior squad.

Instead, he opted to spend another season with Waterford, and he guided them to an Allianz League Division 1 success. But they flopped in the Munster championship

When Cahill rebuffed their approached last year, the Tipperary Board offered another former player Colm Bonnar the job on a three-year term. The team had a miserable season, finishing bottom of the table in the Munster round-robin series.

The Tipperary Board shown Bonnar minimum sympathy announcing that he ‘has been relieved of his duties’. Cahill subsequently resigned as the Waterford boss and soon afterwards was appointed the new Tipp boss.

Even in GAA all is fair in love and war.

Of course, the most-high profile managerial shake-up happened in Kilkenny, where after nearly a quarter of a century at the helm, Brian Cody stepped down.

Replacing Cody is akin to taking over from Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. We know this story hasn’t had a happy ending despite having a multi-million pound budget available.

The Kilkenny County Board announced on Thursady night that Derek Lyng would be the new boss. We wish him well

The good news for the new manager is that the team’s talisman TJ Reid has no plans to hang up his boots any time soon, though he will celebrate his 35th birthday in November.


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