Micheál Donoghue very acquainted with threat Tipperary pose
Galway manager was a mentor alongside former Tipperary boss Eamon O’Shea last year
Galway manager Micheál Donoghue has words with Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald during the All-Ireland quarter-final at Thurles. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
As neighbouring counties it’s hardly surprising that there are many links between Tipperary and Galway hurling going back to Tony Reddin, the Mullagh man who ended up as an All-Ireland-winning Tipperary goalkeeper and a laureate in both the Centenary Team and Team of the Millennium.
This weekend the link as the counties prepare for a second successive All-Ireland semi-final is Galway manager Micheál Donoghue, who was part of Eamon O’Shea’s backroom team in Tipperary last year when the county were beaten by Sunday’s opponents.
Donoghue’s first impact at county level came in the 1992 All-Ireland minor final when he lined out for Galway along with his brother, team goalkeeper Liam, who would captain the county in the 2005 senior final against Cork, when the county took home the first minor championship of Matt Murphy’s legendary haul.
His senior inter-county career was hampered by injury but he was left wing back on the team, also managed by Murphy, which won the 1996 national league.
He enjoyed success with Clarinbridge, winning the club’s first county championship in 2001 and progressing all the way to that season’s All-Ireland final, played on St Patrick’s Day 2002 in Thurles because of reconstruction work in Croke Park.
Managing the team was John McIntyre, who went on to do the same with Galway in more recent years – although he is another of the links with Tipperary having hurled with his home county in the 1980s before moving to Galway where he is sports editor of the Connacht Tribune.
“Micheál played centre back on that Clarinbridge team and they were winning the Galway title for the first time ever so it was a momentous time in the club’s history,” said McIntyre.
“He was an extremely dependable player and although he wasn’t conventionally tall for the position, he was an accomplished stickman and a great player to read the game, a very good hurler.
“We probably wouldn’t have won the county championship without him. He was hugely respected within the group but also relatively unassuming but always someone who as a player would be thinking about his role and how to get the best out of himself.
“He was unflappable, an even temperament. Quiet confidence and a reassuring personality. Not prone to mood swings.
Donoghue has been steeped in hurling throughout his life.
His father Miko, who owns a coach hire business, is a well-known and respected presence in the game. He was also part of one of the the county’s greatest days, driving the Liam MacCarthy and victorious team, across the Shannon in 1980.
When Micheál Donoghue’s playing career ended it raised few eyebrows to see him move into coaching. The pinnacle of his club engagements was winning the All-Ireland with his own team in 2011.
“Then he was in charge when Clarinbridge did win the All-Ireland and they did it playing a nice, stylish brand of hurling. Eamon O’Shea availed of his services and the word from Tipperary on the ground up was his input was both respected and popular.
“In that context it’s no surprise that Micheál has ended up as Galway manager other than the timing of it because no-one would have thought after last year’s All-Ireland final that the county would start 2016 with a new manager.”
His low-key popularity was an asset when Galway had to appoint a successor to Anthony Cunningham after player revolt had forced the latter out.
As one observer of the local scene put it: “when a new manager was being appointed there could have been controversy but when people saw it was Micheál the attitude was – ‘that’s alright, so’”.
Some felt that the league campaign which ended in relegation was a reflection of the pressures on everybody after the controversial coup.
The championship initially inspired heightened criticism after a Leinster final defeat by Kilkenny featured what were depicted as the same failings from the previous year – notably a poor finish after building up a lead.
The All-Ireland quarter-final display in comfortably accounting for Clare defused some of the most pointed barbs but there is renewed pressure this weekend to go out and repeat last year’s victory over the Munster champions.
“I wrote in the Tribune this week that outside factors possible influenced the level of intensity Galway brought to Thurles against Clare. Now against Tipperary they have to go out and do it for themselves.”