Galway chairman praises Eddie O’Sullivan’s role in Henry Shefflin appointment

Former Ireland rugby coach has had a long association with Galway GAA

Galway's top hurling official has praised the role played by former Irish rugby coach Eddie O'Sullivan in the appointment of Henry Shefflin as the new manager of the Tribesmen.

And Paul Bellew, Galway hurling chairman, confirmed that Bernard Dunne, the high-performance director with the IABA, was also part of the interview panel but withdrew when it emerged that Davy Fitzgerald, a good friend who he has worked with previously in Waterford, largely in the healthcare sector, and applied the same principles to finding a successor to Shane O'Neill in Galway and felt there was a need to broaden the level of expertise interviewing the candidates.

"We had a good interview panel, dynamic areas of expertise from all of them and that led into it. Eddie O'Sullivan has quite a distinguished history with Galway GAA which is not as well known. We were looking for someone outside the hurling world. There were enough of us in the space.

“But maybe someone to bring a bit more from a cultural perspective, dressing room dynamic, the mental side of it, sports psychology side of it and just to get a fresh look at these people. And I think it also concentrates them a bit better too,” he said.

Bellew said that former professional boxer Dunne was also part of the recruitment panel but stepped down when it emerged that Fitzgerald might be in the running.

“We had a conversation with Bernard, a fantastic person who was going to give up his time and put a bit of time into prepping and whatever, but when we widened the scope there were people he had been involved with before and he’s a true professional. I don’t think there would have been any conflict of interest but it was more a case of what it might look like.

“It’s a pity we didn’t have him. It would have added another bit of weight to it but we decided then to proceed and as we had put so much work into it at the stage replacing him was not an option as it would have delayed things further.”

Rugby coach

Bellew said that the candidates – which included Galway's former All-Ireland -winning underage managers Jeffrey Lynskey and Brian Hanley in addition to Shefflin and Fitzgerald – were initially a bit surprised that former rugby coach O'Sullivan was on the interview board.

O'Sullivan played senior football with current Galway finalists Mountbellew/Moylough in the 1980s and also served as fitness trainer during John O'Mahony's time in leading Galway to two All-Ireland football titles.

“They knew they were coming in to deal with Eddie and he was fantastic,” added Bellew. “He brought a new dimension and a new angle. He teased things out with them where we could sit back and there was an insight for us too. He asked questions and we got the answers which did help us make our decision.

“They knew well in advance but when you said initially [he was] on the interview panel there was a little bit of surprise but I think also they were happy because it’s independent.

“You can have closed county board decisions already made and that’s obviously one thing we would be avoiding, but I think when you have that independent element like that and particularly a figure that is strong, they have a very independent and intelligent mind and you won’t be pushing them over. So, yes, Eddie was very helpful in the process.”