Galway hurling manager Micheál Donoghue has been given a two-year contract extension and is set to lead the Tribesmen in 2020 as they bid to bounce back from their earliest championship exit in over half a century.
Donoghue, who took charge in late 2015 after a player revolt ended Anthony Cunningham’s reign, was given an extra season late last year and now it has emerged that this term was extended just before the start of the championship this summer.
Galway county committee chairman Pat Kearney said they offered Donoghue an extension until the end of the 2021 campaign after this year’s league and prior to the start of the championship.
“Micheál has two years to go, but there will have to be discussions about it. We have already talked to Micheál about various things for next year and we will be continuing that over the next week or two.
“But Micheál was offered an extension of two years of his term three months ago, before the championship started, and he accepted that,” said Kearney.
Galway’s indifferent league form continued into the championship and an unconvincing win over Carlow was followed by a draw against Wexford.
But Galway, beaten by a point by Limerick in last year’s All-Ireland final, suggested they were set for another serious bid for the Liam MacCarthy Cup when they scored a superb 3-20 to 2-22 success over Kilkenny in Nowlan Park, a first home championship defeat for the Cats in 70 years.
However, a loss away to a Dublin side managed by Galway native Mattie Kenny — a candidate when Donoghue got the job — and a draw between Kilkenny and Wexford that same evening meant that the Tribesmen were out of the 2019 championship after the four top teams in Leinster finished on five points each.
Kearney described the exit as ‘a hiccup’ and Galway will be hoping that underage success which saw minor titles in three of the last four years will help them build for the future.
However they have struggled to bring talent through. They have not won the U21/U20 title since 2011 and were only in the final once since then, while a side which won the minor title in 2017 was well-beaten by Kilkenny in the Leinster U20 semi-final on Thursday night.
Donoghue’s first championship season ended with a semi-final defeat to Tipperary in 2016 but he guided Galway to their first All-Ireland since 1988 when they defeated Waterford in the final two years ago. Their hopes of retaining the title came up short against Limerick last August and Kearney is confident that Donoghue will remain in charge despite this year’s disappointing campaign.
“Obviously there are discussions around it but we want Micheál to stay on and look it, it’s only a hiccup along the line. He’s indicated he’s staying on and he has been ratified for another two years,” added Kearney.