JOE KERNAN was last night appointed the new manager of the Galway senior football team.
Kernan takes over from Liam Sammon and has been appointed for three years, with a review at the end of each season.
The former Armagh manager, who was not present at Ionad Peile na Gaillimhe in Loughgeorge when the announcement was made, will name his backroom team in the coming weeks.
Kernan, who is on holidays abroad, will be present at the Galway senior football semi-finals in Tuam Stadium next Sunday.
The chairman of Galway Football Board, John Joe Holleran, said he believed Kernan was the man to take Galway football forward.
“It is one of the top jobs in the country and we had two high-calibre men in the running, but we believe Joe Kernan is the person to lead Galway football for the next few years.
“Hopefully the success he brought to Armagh can be repeated here in Galway,” said Holleran.
Former Westmeath manager Tomás O Flatharta was the only other contender for the position last night after the other three nominated – Sligo boss Kevin Walsh, former Clare manager Frank Doherty and former Galway selector Pete Warren – withdrew last Friday.
Kernan was the preferred choice of the five-man sub-committee established to process the appointment and his nomination was ratified by a full meeting of Galway Football Board.
Kernan, whose mother Joan Ward is from Ballinasloe in Co Galway, declared his interest in the job after Sammon stepped down following the All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Donegal after two years in charge.
Kernan, who won three Ulster titles as a player and guided Armagh to four provincial titles as manager, masterminded their only All-Ireland title in 2002, having taken charge the previous season.
“He has a great track record and with Galway having enjoyed underage success in recent years, we hope that we can move on to the next level with Joe at the helm,” added Holleran.
Meanwhile, Armagh’s scoring talisman Steven McDonnell is still undecided about whether or not he will retire from inter-county football or carry on under a new manager next season.
The Killeavy marksman only turned 30 in July but admits his future with Armagh centres on who will replace Peter McDonnell as boss.
Former player Neil Smyth and Donal Murtagh, who has just stood down as Crossmaglen boss, are the names being linked with the job at the moment and McDonnell is adopting a wait-and-see policy.
“I haven’t made a decision on what happens yet” said McDonnell yesterday. “I will have to wait and see who the new manager is. Even if I do decide to continue, the new man mightn’t even want me.
“The county board are saying there will be an appointment by the end of the month but you wouldn’t know if that will be next week or if they’ll leave it to the last minute.
“I just hope they make the right choice and things drive forward, because I believe Armagh is still a team that’s capable of winning trophies. And touch wood, the minors will win next week and maybe a couple of them can come through as well.
“A thing that definitely dipped in the last few years is the workrate and that is definitely something we need to improve on.
“If you look at the two teams in the All-Ireland, they are very good at winning possession back when they don’t have the ball. That’s something we need to get back.”
Whether he decides to continue or not, McDonnell has little doubt that he retains the ability to perform at the highest level.
Since making his debut in the Ulster title-winning campaign of 1999, he has scored 15 goals and 111 points in championship football, winning three All Stars and helping Ireland win the international rules series last year.
Such talent is unlikely to be allowed to be confined to the club scene by whoever takes over in Armagh.
“I would still feel I’m more than capable of playing inter-county football. I’ve only just turned 30. It’s funny, I looked at the Kerry pen pics before the Meath match and they have (eight players) over 30.
“So if you’re telling me that once someone turns 30 they’re no longer capable of playing inter-county football, that puts the lie to that.”
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