Former Galway manager John McIntyre yesterday revealed captain David Collins, vice-captain Andy Smith and 2014 captain Joe Canning and David Burke as the four players who informed Anthony Cunningham that the squad did not want him to continue as manager.
The Irish Examiner understands a player younger than Burke had initially agreed to be part of the delegation. It was believed his presence would demonstrate the will of the U21 players that Cunningham had introduced to the panel this year. However, he was replaced by the St Thomas man Burke, most significantly a club-mate of the Galway boss.
In a Connacht Tribune piece headlined ‘The game looks over for Cunningham as team boss’, the newspaper’s sports editor McIntyre chronicles the disharmony in the camp.
“There had been boiling discontent among the players for several months over Cunningham’s management regime. Matters initially came to a head when they lost heavily to Waterford in the league quarter-final at Walsh Park in late March with only the relative close proximity of the championship preventing a heave against the Galway set-up.
“Cunningham also took on board the players’ grievances and, initially, the atmosphere in the Galway camp improved. As the team progressed through the championship, especially after their terrific All-Ireland semi-final triumph over Tipperary, it appeared to all intents and purposes that a united dressing-room was on the brink of delivering the Liam MacCarthy Cup back West for the first time since 1988.
“But their failure to drive on in the second-half against Kilkenny, leading to the county’s sixth consecutive All-Ireland final defeat, contributed to the re-opening of old wounds and the players finally bit the bullet in overwhelmingly passing a vote of no confidence in Cunningham just days before his appointment for a fifth year was due to come up for ratification by the board.”
In a statement late on Wednesday, the Galway County Board confirmed talks with the players will continue into next week.
“Last evening a number of players, representing the 2015 panel, met with officers of the County and Hurling Committees to outline some issues and their position in relation to the proposed 2016 management set up. These matters will be reviewed in an effort to find a resolution.
“In the meantime, showing respect for the parties involved, no further statement will be issued by the Galway County Committee in relation to this matter, until a satisfactory resolution has been reached.”
Officials hope an alteration to Cunningham’s management team may convince players that he is the right man to lead Galway into the 2016 season.
Well-placed sources say the longer the players are at the table the more chance Cunningham will survive.
However, there is still anger in the panel at how their views weren’t taken on board by the manager last week.
Meanwhile, Armagh will be without Caolan Rafferty for next season after he emigrated to Hong Kong. It means Kieran McGeeney must now do without four players from this year’s panel including ace forward Jamie Clarke, Stephen Harold and Finian Moriarty who has announced his inter-county retirement.
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