Morgan back in bid to boost Cork fortunes

PADJOE WHELAHAN was last night ratified as the new manager of the Limerick senior hurling team for a two-year period.

After a 40-minute discussion in which county board chairman Pat Fitzgerald pleaded for unity, there was just one dissenting voice when a vote was taken at a packed meeting of the county board. Whelahan will take up duty immediately, but the selectors will not be appointed for a further few weeks as the new manager wants to have an input.

Dave Mahedy was appointed trainer but the chairman denied recent speculation that Joe McKenna was to become a selector. He did agree, however, that McKenna would act as a liaison officer. It emerged that seven candidates had been interviewed for the position by the four-man committee set up by the county board. Chairman Fitzgerald said he was impressed by Whelahan’s approach and he had a perfect track record.

“He has a passion for hurling. He sat down and told us how he could achieve success. He is a man with no baggage and I can assure you his contract is far less than the guidelines applied by the GAA, even though he has to make a round trip of 130 miles for training.”

One delegate asked if Whelahan could find himself in a Catch 22 situation if Limerick were to play Offaly in the All-Ireland series, especially if Whelahan’s sons were part of the Offaly set-up.

But he was told by Fitzgerald that Padjoe’s loyalty would be entirely with Limerick if his position as manager was ratified.

The debate ended when Oliver Mann of Patrick’s Well said it was time to move forward with a united purpose.

Whelahan brought Birr to their fourth All-Ireland club title inside nine years with victory over Dunloy last March.

Last Sunday, his side captured their fifth Offaly SHC on the trot when overcoming Ballyskenach and in doing so, equalled the record of the great St Rynagh’s team of the 1970s, of which he was a member.

After managing Offaly for a brief spell in the late 1980s, he guided Birr to four All-Ireland titles and coached Toomevara to provincial success.

However, he was believed to have been upset when overlooked by the county board after former manager Fr Tom Fogarty stepped down at the end of last season.

Billy Morgan was appointed coach to the Cork senior football team in succession to Larry Tompkins, who held the position for seven years.

Conor Counihan was widely believed to be the front-runner for the job, so the decision was a surprise. A seven-man committee, led by county board chairman Jim Forbes, submitted Morgan’s name for ratification to the board members and his appointment was sanctioned without a dissenting voice.

Morgan previously coached the Cork team from 1987 to 1996 and established what became known as the golden age of Cork football.

He led his charges to two All-Ireland success in 1989-1990 and resisted attempts to remove him from the post after Cork lost to Kerry in the first round of the Munster championship in 1991, and brought them to another All-Ireland final in 1993 when they lost to Derry.

Morgan stepped down in 1996 after his side lost out in Munster and his former star player, Larry Tompkins took over. After leaving the Cork post, Morgan took over as coach of his club Nemo Rangers and steered them to an historic Cork county senior football championship three in-a-row, culminating in All-Ireland club success in March when they defeated Crossmolina of Mayo. Captain of Cork when they won the All-Ireland in 1973, after a lapse of 28 years, Morgan was generally regarded as the best goalkeeper of his era.

Winner of all the honours the game can bestow, Morgan won the admiration of all with his tremendous passion and dedication to Cork’s footballing cause when he took over as coach.

His appointment last night will be greeted with universal approval by all Cork fans.

Morgan’s other selectors will be Stephen O’Brien (Nemo) Colman Corrigan (Macroom) Seán Murphy (Kilmurry) and a representative of the county champions.

Meanwhile, Galway hurling manager Conor Hayes, minor coach Mattie Murphy and intermediate coach Michael Linnane have all been ratified for the coming year by the county’s hurling board. However, John Hardiman who guided Galway to back-to-back All-Irelands at minor level is not interested in going for a third stint as boss of the Galway U21s.

Hardiman, a teacher at St Raphael’s College, Loughrea where he has also excelled as a coach, led his gifted U18 squads to national crowns in 1999 and 2000, but he has failed to make any impact with virtually the same personnel as under-21 players.

They were trounced by Limerick in the 2002 final and although they again got to the decider this year were convincingly defeated by Kilkenny.

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