The Galway players who told Cunningham it’s time to go

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.

The Galway players who told Cunningham it’s time to go

“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.

Joe Canning was one offour players who informed Anthony Cunningham that the squad did not want him to continue as manager
Joe Canning was one of four players who informed Anthony Cunningham that the squad did not want him to continue as manager

“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.

 

What other counties are vulnerable?

LIMERICK (hurling)

A lack of one-on-one coaching as well as questions over fitness work were some of the grievances held by players this season. The appointment of 2013 All-Ireland winning physical and conditioning coach Joe O’Connor is a welcome one although TJ Ryan has yet to appoint a new hurling coach, which will be key. The Garryspillane man has already been ratified for one more season but there remains differences between certain players and management. Chances of contagion: 50% 

CLARE (hurling)

Claims of double standards in the treatment of Davy O’Halloran and Nicky O’Connell didn’t exactly serve Clare well this past spring.

Preceding another early qualifier exit, the pressure has mounted on Davy Fitzgerald but if Brendan Bugler and Aaron Cunningham’s joint interview in the wake of the defeat to Cork is to be believed then he has the full support of his panel. Chances of contagion: 40%

DUBLIN (hurling)

Towards the end of their championship run, the rumour mill was spinning wildly about things not being hunky dory in the hurlers’ camp.

Ger Cunningham has since taken a broom to his backroom team and may yet do the same to his panel unless some chose to step aside themselves.Chances of contagion: 40%

CORK (football)

No disrespect to any of the other candidates but John Cleary was the man the players wanted in charge of them next season. Having enjoyed success with several of them at U21 success, he was viewed as the best candidate in their eyes. But after their falls to Kerry and Kildare, though, beggars can’t exactly be choosers. Chances of contagion: 20%

TYRONE (football)

The respect that exists for Mickey Harte in Tyrone means that players who do have issues with him usually quit the panel and leave it at that. Several left this season primarily because of a lack of action. However, the county board have taken a less deferral approach to him this year, offering him a two-year term instead of the three he sought. Players can’t but notice such things. Chances of contagion: 20%


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