WATERFORD GAA chiefs are to approach potential replacements for Justin McCarthy over coming days, with Nickey English and Donal O’Grady figuring high on their shortlist.
The Waterford hurlers met in the Ramada Hotel in the city until almost 2am yesterday morning, with word of McCarthy’s resignation filtering through at 10pm. Waterford
County Board chairman Pat Flynn joined the players later to discuss possible replacements for the Corkman.
Though the board is keen on a Waterford native replacing McCarthy, it is felt that candidates such as former player Peter Queally and De La Salle colleges coach, Derek McGrath, may be too inexperienced for the top job at this stage.
Tipperary native Colm Bonnar, who has been a Waterford selector in the past, is not believed to be in the running, though former Kilkenny hurler
Eddie O’Connor, who trains Waterford club De La Salle, is a contender for the hot seat.
However, replacing a manager in mid-season is problematic, given that most candidates are already tied up in managerial posts or media work. Given that some senior Waterford hurlers would be unhappy with the prospect of a manager from old adversaries Clare, that also removes well-respected coaches such as Davy Fitzgerald, Anthony Daly and Tony Considine from the running.
In the interim it’s understood that the Waterford hurlers drew up a training plan to cover the next two weeks at last night’s meeting so as not to lose further ground in the championship, and they will train this morning at 9am.
Although officially Justin McCarthy’s entire backroom team resigned with the manager on Thursday, the players are understood to be keen on retaining the services of Gerry Fitzpatrick, the team’s physical trainer, for the rest of the season.
Waterford County Board secretary John O’Leary said that every possible avenue will be explored by officials when it comes to replacing McCarthy, but added that there was no question of them acting hastily. Asked if there was any possibility of a recommendation being made to next Monday night’s board meeting, the secretary replied that nothing is being ruled either in or out.
“What we cannot do, and must not do, is rush headlong into taking a decision or decisions that might come back to haunt us’, O’Leary said.
“The all important thing right now is to do what is best for Waterford hurling.”
Limerick manager Richie Bennis has voiced his disappointment at the enforced exit of the former Cork All- Ireland star.
Bennis said that having delivered three Munster championships and a first National League title to Waterford during his seven-year managerial reign, McCarthy had brought major success to the county.
“I believe he has, in all the circumstances, been harshly treated,” Bennis said yesterday.
“I don’t know where all this clamour for his head has come from, and I don’t know why, either.”
Speaking on Waterford local radio, the Limerick boss said that he felt very sorry for McCarthy after all he has done for hurling in Waterford throughout his time with the team.
Based on the opinions expressed by callers to local radio stations in Waterford, supporters appear divided over McCarthy’s resignation. Opinion was more polarised in an online poll on popular GAA fan An Fear Rua, with Justin McCarthy being supported by voters by a margin of nine to one.
Throughout yesterday over 400 fans voted, with 76% opposing the way the players had moved to get rid of McCarthy. A further 12% said they were either sorry he was gone or that they were glad he had resigned but did not like the way he was treated. Only 11% of the fans said they were happy about McCarthy’s resignation.
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