Micheal Donoghue steps into the breach in Galway

Former All-Ireland winning club hurling manager Micheal Donoghue has been entrusted with picking up the pieces in Galway as the replacement for ousted boss Anthony Cunningham.

Donoghue guided Clarinbridge to the AIB All-Ireland club hurling title in March 2011, and more recently has worked alongside Eamon O’Shea in the Tipperary backroom team.

Donoghue also helped the Clarinbridge minors claim this year’s Galway title.

His belated appointment at a special meeting of the county board yesterday evening will be warmly received in the county.

Mattie Kenny, part of Galway’s management team when they contested two All-Ireland finals in 2012, back to back All-Ireland medallist Gerry McInerney and Kiltormer’s Justin Campbell, who guided Roscommon to Nicky Rackard Cup success last June, were all beaten to the position.

John Hardiman and Johnny Kelly were also candidates to replace Cunningham though both ruled themselves out of the running at different stages recently.

The appointment, just days before the new year, fills the last managerial vacancy in the MacCarthy Cup competition and brings to an end a bitter period following the dispute between former manager Cunningham and his players.

Under Cunningham, Galway led Kilkenny by three points in September’s All-Ireland final but eventually lost out by four.

It was their second final under Cunningham who was the only Galway manager since Cyril Farrell in the 1980s to guide the county to more than one final during his reign.

But all of that counted for little in the eyes of the players who moved quickly against Cunningham in the wake of the defeat and will be under considerable pressure in 2016 to justify the coup.

A Galway statement last night said that Donoghue is currently putting his backroom team in place though, according to Galway Bay FM, this will include Franny Forde, who has worked as an analyst with the local radio station and managed St Rynaghs of Offaly in recent seasons.

The Galway players head away on a team holiday next week, meaning Donoghue will have little time to work with his inherited panel ahead of their first competitive game, a Walsh Cup opener with DCU on January 10.

The Tribesmen begin their Allianz league Division 1A campaign on February 14 at home to Cork and, significantly, have a relatively clear path to next July’s Leinster final with likely ties against Offaly and Laois to get there.

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