New Galway hurling manager Shane O’Neill will meet the players for the first time this evening and says everyone will be starting with a clean slate.
The Limerick man, who guided his native Na Piarsaigh to the All-Ireland club title in 2016, is the last of the Liam MacCarthy Cup managers to be appointed for next season.
His predecessor Micheál Donoghue was appointed three days before Christmas in 2015 and led them to All-Ireland glory in his second season in charge before surprisingly stepping down in August.
O’Neill, who won two Limerick and Munster titles in his four years in charge of Na Piarsiagh before working with Éire Óg Nenagh for a season, said he is looking forward to taking charge of the Tribesmen.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my four years in management with Na Piarsaigh and then with Nenagh, dealing with elite players in both clubs.
“A lot of the Limerick senior team were with Na Piarsaigh and then some of the Tipperary senior team with Nenagh, so you could see the high standards that’s expected from the players. It’s something I enjoyed and now the opportunity has arisen with Galway. I was very impressed with the members of the committee I met and the people on the board, very professional in everything they did.”
The Limerick-based solicitor said he is working on his backroom team and confirmed Na Piarsaigh clubmate John Fitzgerald will be his coach. The former goalkeeper has extensive management experience, working with the likes of Limerick IT and Éire Óg Nenagh for the past few seasons.
Strength and conditioning coach Lukasz Kirszenstein will continue in his role with Galway. The Polish native worked with Tipperary in their 2016 All-Ireland success before backing it up with the Tribesmen the following year.
“Everyone is starting with a clean slate,” added O’Neill. “There will need to be some sort of bedding-in period, we need to get to know each other as people as much as hurling people, what our attributes are from a hurling point of view but also from our personalities.
“I’m looking forward to it. There are serious, quality hurlers there and I’m looking forward to getting to know them and working with them.”
O’Neill was at the Galway SHC final on Sunday and is set to plan the next few months with the players and management team.
“We have Walsh Cup on January 12, the final is on the following week and then we will be straight into the league and it will be off from there.
“We finished fourth in Leinster this year and it will be every bit as competitive next summer but we are looking forward to that already,” added O’Neill.