LIMERICK senior football manager Maurice Horan is on the lookout for a new coach in his backroom team for the 2012 season after Ephie Fitzgerald was last night ratified as the new manager of the Cork minor footballers.
Fitzgerald, who played an integral role in helping the Limerick footballers reach the quarter-final stage of this year’s All-Ireland SFC, was the recommendation of the sub-committee appointed by the Cork county board to find a successor to Brian Cuthbert, who had guided the county’s minor side to last year’s All-Ireland decider against Tyrone.
Horan, who recruited Fitzgerald when appointed as Limerick boss last year, expressed his disappointment at the loss of a coach of his calibre but had no qualms with the Nemo Rangers man’s decision to take up a post with his native county.
“I’m very disappointed that we won’t have Ephie with us next year as he had a huge impact with Limerick this season. He took a leap of faith really coming up to Limerick when there was a new manager involved and the team had suffered a lot of disappointment in losing Munster finals over the previous two years. But he was excellent for us and deserves a lot of credit. He brought a lot of experience to the table, was a great coach to the players and a superb motivator in the dressing-room.”
Horan admitted that he had been aware in recent weeks that Fitzgerald, who managed Nemo Rangers to four county senior titles in succession between 2005 and 2008, was on the brink of taking up the position in Cork.
“I knew over the last few weeks that he was in the frame with the Cork minors and to be fair to him, we were in regular contact about that process. Of course I did try to twist his arm and get him to stay. But he’s a Cork man first and foremost, and it was obviously very attractive to take a job with his own county, especially when he’s living and working in Cork city.
“I can’t fault him for that. I’m sure he’ll do a great job, he has a proven track record at underage level having helped Coláiste Chríost Rí win the Corn Uí Mhuirí title last year.
“Clearly he’s a very good way with young players and I wish him the best with it. We’ve got to move on now and I’m on the lookout for a replacement for him. But it’s still very early days in that process.”
Fitzgerald’s appointment was rubber-stamped at last night’s meeting of the Cork County Board in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
He has received a two year term of office and fills the vacancy that was created when Cuthbert decided to step down after his tenure concluded when Cork were defeated in the All-Ireland minor quarter-final by Dublin in Portlaoise last August.
The identity of the selectors that will serve alongside Fitzgerald were also announced with Michael ‘Haulie’ O’Neill (Clonakilty), Liam Hodnett (St Finbarr’s) Pat Spratt (Buttevant), and Andrew McCarthy (Inniscarra) set to fill roles as part of Fitzgerald’s backroom setup.
O’Neill has been hugely successful with his club Clonakilty as he was at the helm when the West Cork men tasted glory in the Cork SFC in 1996 and 2009.
Hodnett has extensive coaching experience having previously filled roles as selectors with Cork senior, U21 and minor football teams, while he has also been heavily involved in GAA in Cork IT in recent seasons. Spratt steered Glanworth to the Cork junior football title in 2009 while McCarthy maintains a link with the outgoing management team having served as a selector under Cuthbert.
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