Hanley and Lynskey both candidates for Galway job
All-Ireland success in 2017 the highlight of Donoghue’s four-year spell in charge
Galway manager Micheál Donoghue shows the Liam McCarthy to his father Miko Donoghue in Ballinasloe following the All-Ireland win in 2017. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
If the timing of Micheál Donoghue’s decision to step down as Galway senior hurling manager is unexpected there’s ample hope and reason for a quick and smooth succession.
News of his decision came on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning Galway county chairman Pat Kearney had already indicated his intention to have a new management team in place by the beginning of October.
At the same time two names also came quickly to the forefront. While Donoghue’s ambitions with the senior team fell well short of expectations this season, Sunday’s All-Ireland final showcase at Croke Park saw the Galway minors under manager Brian Hanley finally complete the three in-a-row, which had previously eluded them, by comprehensively beating Kilkenny at Croke Park.
It was Hanley’s first year in charge of the Galway minors, and already he’s being touted as as candidate for the senior job.
Hanley also had a successful playing career with his club Athenry, winning seven county and three All-Irelands club titles.
Former player Jeffrey Lynskey previously guided Galway to three minor All-Irelands in four years, before being succeeded by Hanley, and will also be considered a contender for the position.
Either way, Galway have enjoyed the most productive minor period, Sunday’s fifth minor title this decade, adding to wins in 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2018, only outdone by the six titles Tipperary won in the 1950s.
Donoghue completed four terms in the position and was widely expected to agree to a fifth, only to announce otherwise in a statement to Galway Bay FM.
“We started out in December 2015 with the simple goal to bring success back to Galway hurling and to build a culture of professionalism and consistency in performance,” he said. “Since then we have had some amazing days most notably the 2017 All Ireland success.
“After four seasons we feel the time is now right to hand on the opportunity to a new management team.”
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, county chairman Kearney confirmed the entire management team were stepping down, including selectors Noel Larkin and Francis Forde.
Thanking them “for their contribution since taking up the position in late 2015,” he paid tribute to what they had achieved: “We were unlucky enough in 2016, beaten by a point by Tipperary, the eventual champions and who will ever forget the fantastic victory in ’17, bridging the long gap and the joy that brought to Galway people at home and abroad?
“Last year we came up one point short against Limerick and this year injuries and that meant that things didn’t go as well as Micheál and the lads wanted and everyone expected so we have to accept his decision. He has put huge effort and huge personal commitment into this with a young family. We have thanked him for his efforts and that’s where we are.”
Donoghue’s appointment was announced in December 2015, after a season when Galway had reached the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny with expectations, only to fade considerably in the second half, the players then airing some discontent around then manager Anthony Cunningham, who stepped down as a result.
Having reached last year’s final, Galway went out of this year’s championship in a shock early departure after losing to Dublin in Parnell Park, a result that combined with the Wexford-Kilkenny draw to eliminate Galway on scoring difference.
Still, Donoghue leaves the most significant legacy of any Galway hurling manage in the past 30 years, having led the county in to its first Liam MacCarthy Cup since 1988 in 2017. That previous win, in 1988, was under manager Cyril Farrell, who before being joined by Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy on Sunday, was the only hurling manager to realise such a successful return. Farrell had managed Galway to the 1980 All-Ireland, took a break, then came back and won two more in 1987 and 1988.
This year had already been difficult for Galway with a groin injury to key player and 2017 Hurler of the Year Joe Canning keeping him out for most of the championship.