Managerial merrygoround turning before championship year ends

Waterford boss Liam Cahill opts to remain in situ despite being on the Tipperary wish list

The managerial appointments season is up and running even before the championship year is over. News that Liam Cahill and his coach Mikey Bevans are to stay with Waterford emerged on Thursday morning and whereas it solves one county's problem it creates on for another.

Cahill had very much been on the radar of his own county, Tipperary, with whom he had enjoyed All-Ireland success at Under-21 and Under-20 level. The fact that he has decided to remain leaves Tipp short on choices for their senior manager in the wake of Liam Sheedy’s departure and that of his management team.

Names such as Willie Maher, who managed the Tipperary minors to the 2012 All-Ireland and who is like Cahill a Ballingarry club man, and Darragh Egan, an outgoing selector, have surfaced but the withdrawal of their number one target creates complications for the county.

It's not too hard to see why Cahill made the choice to stay. After the All-Ireland semi-final defeat by eventual champions Limerick, he had addressed the question of any Tipp succession.

“It’s hard to know yet but look, these fellas are very hard to walk away from because they’re a really honest bunch of fellas.”

In the statement issued on tipperartylive.ie, Cahill said: "In the circumstances we feel that to step aside now from the Waterford journey would be the wrong decision and for that reason we will be staying with the Waterford senior hurling team for the coming year.

“I fully understand that this decision will please some but deeply disappoint many others. I have never made a secret of my desire to one day manage my native county and that ambition remains intact. We would be hopeful that this opportunity would present itself again in the future when the timing is right.

“For now, my commitment is to the Waterford senior hurling team where Mikey Bevans and I feel we have a sense of unfinished business. We made significant progress in the past two years but we feel that there is still more to come from this incredible bunch of players.”

Whereas the Tipp position would inevitably involve having to retire players and rebuild – something Cahill showed himself willing and able to do in Waterford – staying put will see him taking charge of a strengthened unit pending the return of long-term injury Tadhg de Búrca and the player who replaced him originally, Iarlaith Daly.

Another long-term absentee is former captain Pauric Mahony, who also will be recovered. There are also some promising players from this year’s Under-20s. Former selector and army officer Stephen Molumphy is also expected to return from an overseas posting and may be available to re-engage with the management.

Cahill may also have factored in the weekend’s All-Ireland final, in which Limerick overpowered Cork in the light of which Waterford’s 11-point defeat in the semi-final validates claims that they are the second-best team in the country especially as they faced the champions in what was a fourth successive week on their schedule. With more ideal preparation and a stronger panel Waterford can feel buoyant about next year.

It all starts for him as early as this weekend with the start of the county championship.

Limerick to recruit

Meanwhile, Limerick will be looking for a new strength and conditioning coach, as head of performance Mikey Kiely, whose perfect timing of the champions’ run to the All-Ireland was widely praised, has taken up an appointment with Ulster rugby and is believed to have started work there, as the new season approaches, making last Sunday’s All-Ireland final his last match with the team.

Most of the managerial appointments news to date has been about those remaining. In neighbouring Clare, Brian Lohan has been recommended for a further three years, as he requested in order to provide certainty in the future, as he sets about strengthening the team structures.

“The big thing when we were looking at it initially,” he told Clare FM earlier this week, “was we felt we had good players and looking at set-ups around the country there are very professional set-ups out there and we probably had to get that to a different level because the game is constantly moving on and we can see that over the weekend with the performance of Limerick and how professional their set-up is and the kind of advice they have access to.

“It’s trying to move Clare up to that level because we think we have the quality of players and we think we have that potential but it takes a huge amount of work obviously.”

His name goes before the next county board meeting and he is confident that he will get the support of the clubs.

It’s something similar in Donegal where football manager Declan Bonner presented his report to the county committee on Wednesday night and announced that he would be putting his name forward for a fifth year in charge of the team.

Having won Ulster in 2018 and 2019, Donegal lost last year’s final to Cavan and this year’s semi-final to ultimate champions Tyrone.

Now 10 years in the county system, and having won Ulster minor and Under-21 titles along the way, Bonner intends, like Lohan, to strengthen his back-room team, as the county, which has placed Karl Lacey in charge of its recently formed football academy, pushes ahead with plans for the future.

Deadline for nominations is next Sunday afternoon.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times

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