Limerick GAA chiefs could unveil the county’s new senior hurling team manager this evening – with local contenders Shane O’Neill and John Kiely heavily linked with the post, writes Jackie Cahill.
The rumour mill was in overdrive on Shannonside yesterday as O’Neill emerged as the most likely nominee to succeed TJ Ryan, before Kiely’s name entered the frame.
What is certain is that Limerick will appoint from within the county, although one Limerick panellist suggested that current Clare coach Donal Óg Cusack withdrew from the race over the weekend.
The Limerick picture appears to be changing on an almost daily basis but other top 'outside' names who were under consideration, Anthony Cunningham and Anthony Daly, will not be involved.
Despite suggestions to the contrary, former Galway boss Cunningham was not present at the Gaelic Grounds for weekend senior championship fixtures while Daly has indicated that he is not interested in stepping up to a senior role at this point in time, despite coaching the Limerick minors this year.
O’Neill and Kiely would each bring significant qualities to the post – and both are recent All-Ireland winning managers.
O’Neill guided Na Piarsaigh to All-Ireland senior club hurling glory last March but the Caherdavin outfit recently bowed out of the Limerick championship at the group stage.
And Kiely, a selector alongside John Allen when Limerick won the 2013 Munster senior hurling title, guided the county’s U21s to All-Ireland glory last year.
O’Neill played for the Limerick seniors during the 1990s, lining out in the lining out in the 1996 All-Ireland final against Wexford before landing a National League title in 1997.
Kiely was also a Limerick panellist when they lost out to Wexford 19 years ago.
A sub-committee established to find Ryan’s successor has almost finished its work and after exploring all options, have decided that their new manager will come from inside the county.
Limerick appear to have already pulled off a coup by enticing former county footballer Paul Kinnerk to cut ties with Clare and take up a coaching role.
And while a full management team may not be revealed this evening, O’Neill’s or Kiely’s name could be put forward for ratification.
A well-placed Limerick source explained: “This county board meeting would originally have been the plan but they’re anxious to present the full package, and not just a manager. That’s why it might take another couple of days.
“There’s also a regulation where clubs are given 48 hours’ notice of proposed appointments and we’re obviously inside of that time-frame now but that regulation has occasionally been waived in the past.”
If Kiely doesn’t take the management role, he could be prepared to take over a selector’s role once again.
He was in charge of the Limerick U21s again this year and before they exited the championship against Tipperary, insisted that the senior post was ‘not on his radar’ at that point in time.