Cribbin the favourite to take over as Kildare football manager

Ronayne succeeds Fitzgerald as Cork women’s footballers’ boss on a three-year term.

The managerial merry-go-round which invariably makes noise this time of year continues apace as several more counties appear set to close in on their chosen ones.

After Jack O'Connor's hasty exit as Kildare football manager after two seasons, and subsequent appointment back in his native Kerry for a third time, Tom Cribbin remains the frontrunner to take his place, although this process is still ongoing.

Cribbin acted as a selector with O’Connor for those last two seasons, and likewise before that under previous Kildare manager Cian O’Neill.

If Cribbin does get the nod, and he’s certainly expressed strong interest, it would be his fourth managerial appointment in a fourth different county after previously taking charge of Laois, Offaly and Westmeath, taking the latter to back-to-back Leinster football finals in 2015 and 2016, both of which ended in defeats against Dublin.


Former Galway football manager Kevin Walsh is also understood to be part of the coaching ticket should Cribbin get the role.

However Davy Burke, who stepped down from his role as Wicklow manager after two years, and who previously guided Kildare to All-Ireland U-20 success, is also still in the frame. Kildare also brought in Letterkenny native Michael McGeehan, director of sport with Sport Ireland, to consult on the appointment process.

In Meath, Andy McEntee is set to continue his second three-year term –making it six seasons in all – through 2022. As an interesting new aside, Meath have also appointed Dublin native and rugby specialist conditioning coach Barry Horgan as their general manager of age grade football in the county.

Horgan has also worked in the GAA, but in recent years been based in Australia, strength and conditioning coach with Super Rugby side ACT Brumbies. He will focus on Meath players from the Under-13 to the Under-20 grade. John McCarthy, former minor manager, moves up a grade and takes charge of the Under-20s.

A notable addition to the Tyrone under-20 football management team is Owen Mulligan, the three-time All-Ireland winner linking in with manager Paul Devlin, and a sign perhaps of bigger ambitions to come. Devlin has been in charge of the Tyrone under-20 team since 2018.

After Cork decided against giving Ronan McCarthy another year in charge, John Fintan Daly has emerged as a likely successor, the Knocknagree manager continuing to make his impact at club level. He confirmed to Cork radio over the weekend his name was certainly in the mix.

Good candidates

“All I will say is that I have applied for the job. There’s a process there now, they’ve a lot of good candidates and I’m just there in the queue. I’ve put my CV in, maybe I’ve something to offer, maybe I don’t. It’s up to the county board from here.”

The county’s director of football, Conor Counihan, is part of the appointment process.

In hurling, Galway’s search for a replacement for Shane O’Neill is expected to conclude next week. O’Neill stepped down after two seasons in charge, and the talk here is whether or not former manager Micheál Donoghue will return to the post he left in 2019, after guiding to Galway to the All-Ireland in 2017.

Donoghue, like O’Connor returning for a third stint in Kerry, will likely have the support of the players, assuming whatever differences he held with the county board in the past are also put to bed. The county’s hurling committee, with Paul Bellew in charge, are set to announce their preferred candidate next week.

There’s been a returning trend here too after Colm Bonnar was earlier this month confirmed as the new Tipperary senior hurling manager on a three-year term. Bonnar previously managed Wexford and Carlow, coached in Waterford, and served as selector and physical trainer to Tipperary under Ken Hogan, as well as coaching the Tipperary camogie team to an All-Ireland senior title.

Elsewhere, Shane Ronayne has been appointed to succeed Ephie Fitzgerald as Cork senior women’s football manager on a three-year term.

Ronayne only stepped down as Waterford senior men’s manager on Friday, and previously guided Tipperary to All-Ireland intermediate titles in 2017 and 2019, also taking Mourneabbey to successive All-Ireland club titles in 2018 and 2019, as well as six provincial crowns between 2014 and 2019.

From Mitchelstown, Ronayne only spent one season in charge of the Waterford senior men’s footballers, which ended with a heavy loss to Limerick in the Munster championship.

He takes over a Cork women’s team eager to get back to All-Ireland winning days, their last success coming in 2016. They lost out to eventual champions Meath in agonising fashion after extra-time in this year’s All-Ireland semi-final after conceding two late goals in normal time.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics