Cork begin the search for Allen's successor


John Allen formally stepped down as Cork hurling manager last night, signing off with a short statement at the county board meeting, after a two-year term ended on a sour note with defeat to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final on September 10th.

The whole management team must also step down but selector Ger Cunningham is widely expected to continue the recent Cork tradition of in-house promotion by replacing Allen.

Allen progressed from selector to manager after the Donal O'Grady era, which also yielded one All-Ireland final victory and one defeat, although in reverse order to Allen's tenure.

"John has given great service to Cork hurling having been involved with the team for seven or eight years out of the last 10," said county board chairman Mick Dolan. "After serving under Jimmy Barry Murphy in another capacity (team masseur) he then had four solid years, with Donal O'Grady for two, before taking on the mantle himself."

Dolan did leave the door open for Allen to return to the Cork management in the future.

"He won an All-Ireland and he lost an All-Ireland but in the modern day to be sticking at this requires ferocious commitment and John has a young family. He needs a break but I know he will be available again in a couple of years if asked."

Overall, his time in charge will be reflected in a positive light as not since Canon Bertie Troy and the 1976-78 three-in-a-row team has a Cork manager won a second All-Ireland title.

Any question about Allen's credentials were dismissed during last year's All-Ireland semi-final against Clare when he ruthlessly replaced Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran with Wayne Sherlock and Neil Ronan - a double switch that, allied to John Gardiner's move to centre back, had a substantial impact. Cork went on to win by a single point.

While Cunningham is the early favourite, several other names have already been thrown into the mix, with RTÉ analyst Tomás Mulcahy a genuine candidate, if he were to seek the job.

Mulcahy is currently manager of Glen Rovers but is most fondly remembered in Cork for captaining the 1990 All-Ireland-winning team.

The managerial merry-go-round continues elsewhere, with the Laois football board expected to recommend a successor to Mick O'Dwyer tonight.

The full county board meeting next Monday is required to rubber-stamp any decision but former Limerick manager Liam Kearns is expected to fend off a Laois native, Pat Roe.

Mayo secretary Seán Feeney intimated yesterday that despite the disaster that was Sunday's All-Ireland final, the football management team of Mickey Moran, John Morrison and Kieran Gallagher are expected to remain at the helm for another year.

"I'm sure they will stay on and it would be ratified by the county board in the first week of October," said Feeney.

"This season had initially been identified as a rebuilding process that would take two years. We would have settled for far less than reaching an All-Ireland final although it is difficult to explain the collapse."

Moran is yet to reveal his thoughts on the matter.

In Galway, the hurling committee are patiently waiting for Ger Loughnane to decide whether to return to county management or continue his media activities.

The Kilkenny manager's job is currently vacant but that is always the way once the championship finishes.

In Brian Cody's eight-year reign he has tended to keep his plans to himself until after the county championship. However, as with Jack O'Connor in Kerry, it would be a major surprise if Cody walked away.

There is little movement in Clare on the managerial front, again mainly because of the club championship, while Justin McCarthy has made no secret of his wish to return to the Waterford hot seat for one more tilt at the elusive All-Ireland.

Tipperary and Babs Keating are also expected to complete the reunion that was initially planned as a two-year stint.