The Galway players will not have a “direct say” in the appointment of Micheál Donoghue’s successor, county board chairman Pat Kearney has made clear.
Kearney has said it came as a total surprise to him and the rest of the country board executive when Donoghue tendered his resignation late on Tuesday night, stressing there were no signs to indicate the 2017 All-Ireland winning manager was about to pull the plug on his four-year spell overseeing the Tribesmen.
His unexpected exit has thrown Galway hurling back into a period of uncertainty, and so the right appointment is critical to achieving — and continuing — the sense of unity which defined Donoghue’s tenure. As Donoghue himself noted on the eve of their 2017 All-Ireland final win:
“When players can see that everyone [in the management] knows their role and responsibility, and there are no egos, that creates huge unity.”
Given the acrimonious nature of Anthony Cunningham’s forced departure late in 2015 and the success enjoyed during his successor’s reign, finding someone the players are agreeable with and whose stewardship guarantees a harmonious camp must be the chief priority of county board officials.
But it remains to be seen how likely that outcome is after Kearney insisted that the two player representatives, who the board are in regular contact with, will not have a significant say in who will be the next manager.
It is believed that a large section of the panel is disappointed that Donoghue, who guided the county to league honours in 2017 and back-toback Leinster crowns (2017 and 2018), is no longer steering the ship. “The players won’t have a direct say,” said Kearney of any potential player involvement in appointing the new manager, adding, “but we will discuss it with them”.
Locally, Mattie Kenny, Jeff Lynskey, and Brian Hanley are being mentioned as possible successors, while Davy Fitzgerald has also been linked to the post. Kenny narrowly missed out on taking the reins for the 2015 season, losing a tight vote when it was a straight shootout between himself and Cunningham.
Is it conceivable that the Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry man would walk out on Dublin hurling one year into his three-year term? Lynskey guided Galway to All-Ireland minor glory in 2015, 2017, and 2018 and so would have worked with a number of the senior panel’s younger members, but would the older guard rather someone who is tried and tested at senior inter-county level? Hanley is in the mix by virtue of last weekend’s All-Ireland minor success but would be the least likely of the quartet to get the nod.
Kearney said the management committee who will oversee the appointment process hope to have the new man in place by early October.
“This is a very important appointment. It is our senior flagship team.
Clarinbridge native Donoghue had agreed to a new two year extension as recently as April, but Kearney stated that personal circumstances were key factors in his decision to walk away.
“He has a young family. Time constraints [and] business constraints were reasons,” said Kearney.
“Inter-county management is changing all over the country. Cork has had a change, Waterford has had a change, Westmeath too. People don’t spend too long in these roles now they are so demanding. For volunteers and people with young families, it is very difficult to give the commitment and the time.
“Micheál gave huge commitment, personal sacrifices, personal time, everything, for the last four years.”
In his parting statement, Donoghue said that he and his management felt the time was right to hand over to a new setup.
Outgoing selector Francis Forde yesterday tweeted a picture of the 2017 All-Ireland winning management team, with the caption: “An honour and a privilege.”