Cunningham emerges as contender for Galway job

CONOR HAYES has distanced himself from a return to the Galway job and tipped former teammate Anthony Cunningham to take over from John McIntyre.

Current All-Ireland winning U21 hurling manager Cunningham yesterday threw his hat into the ring after McIntyre’s decision to step down on Wednesday night following three seasons in charge.

However, former Waterford boss Davy Fitzgerald, as well as being linked with his native Clare, is believed to have been sussed out about his interest in the role.

After a litany of disappointments, board officials are keen to get the right person for the job and will consider their options carefully before making a recommendation to the board.

Hayes, who managed the team between 2003 and ‘06, is on the review committee currently investigating why the Tribesmen have failed to win a senior All-Ireland title since 1988 despite so much underage success. He’s ruled himself out but believes Cunningham is in line to take the helm.

“I don’t think so,” said Hayes about taking the job again.

“Anthony Cunningham is the best placed (man) for the position in my view. It’s not as if that’s any sort of a secret.”

Cunningham yesterday revealed the position appeals to him. “I am interested in putting my name forward for the Galway manager’s job, but we will be going forward as a management team en bloc,” he insisted.

“Mattie Kenny and Tom Helebert, as coaches, have done an excellent job all year. We would be interested in standing. I’m sure the hurling board will be putting a process in place to find the next manager.

“It is their call along with the clubs, who are the stakeholders in the game. But we are interested in getting the opportunity.

“The raw materials are there and I think the existing players can still contribute enormously to Galway hurling. And we saw last Saturday [against Dublin in the U21 final] that there is some good talent coming through. The challenge is now to transfer that onto the senior team.”

Confirming his departure, Tipperary native McIntyre admitted he knew his tenure was over following the bitterly disappointing All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Waterford.

“In my hearts of hearts, I knew the game was up for John McIntyre and this management team when we fell so disappointingly to Waterford in Thurles.

“It was a dispiriting defeat, there are no excuses, but I would say that the players did not go out to perform badly.

“I almost resigned that evening, but I was anxious to let things settle for a few weeks and take stock of the situation to ensure my original hunch was the correct one. Obviously, nothing has happened in the interim to alter that opinion.

“I was anxious to have the opportunity of addressing the hurling board delegates, if only to offer some insight into the causes for Galway’s eclipse by Waterford, and to make some suggestions as to what the next Galway manager might need to bring to the table.”

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