John Horgan: Munster manager merry go round in hurling makes next year hard to call

John Horgan: Munster manager merry go round in hurling makes next year hard to call

Cork manager Pat Ryan at LIT Gaelic Grounds. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

PAT RYAN in Cork, Liam Cahill in Tipperary and now Davy Fitzgerald taking the reins again in Waterford, next season’s Munster SHC will have three new management teams guiding matters from the sideline.

The status quo prevails in Limerick and in Clare with John Kiely and Brian Lohan respectively, Kiely setting off on a trail that he hopes will lead the county to a fourth successive All-Ireland and Lohan hoping to build on a lot of the fine work that he oversaw in the Banner County in the recent campaign that is now consigned to history.

The managerial merry go round keeps things ticking over on the inter-county front in the now very lengthy off season as the clubs have the entire focus to themselves.

The speculation didn’t last too long in Cork, Tipp and Waterford when it became known that there was going to be changes in those counties.

Cork moved very quickly to put a successor in place after the departure of Kieran Kingston, Tipp did likewise when Colm Bonnar was relieved of his duties whilst the speculation lasted a bit longer in Waterford as to who the new man would be.

No doubt, the powers that be down there had a long think about the situation in finding the right man who they believe can carry them the extra couple of miles to provincial and national glory.

Davy Fitz’s name was thrown about from the outset, somebody who had been at the helm in the past when a provincial title was won and an All-Ireland final was reached.

There is a school of thought that you should never go back, that applies across the sporting landscape but in Waterford the consensus was that the Clare man would be the right man again at this time for the task.

Only time will provide the answer there but, whilst it’s always a greater gamble to go back for a second stint, it can work the oracle.

Cork camogie selector Davy Fitzgerald and manager Matthew Twomey
Cork camogie selector Davy Fitzgerald and manager Matthew Twomey

Cyril Farrell did it successfully three times in Galway, Liam Sheedy twice in Tipp and Jimmy Barry Murphy was just seconds away from doing it a second time with Cork Davy has, similar to all the new men at the helm, a mammoth task on his hands, more so now because of the dominance of Limerick and how difficult it will be to break the stranglehold they have on things.

But it will be everything to play for when it all starts up again next Spring and the five counties of the province will all set off with a clean slate.

Davy’s appointment in Waterford will add to the intrigue and whether you are in his corner or not, there has to be an acceptance that his enthusiasm and passion is good for the game.

Some of his antics on the sideline at times might not endear him to everyone but in his native Clare, in Waterford on his first journey and in Wexford he reinvigorated things substantially.

He is a hurling man through and through and his presence on the sidelines of Semple stadium the Gaelic Grounds, Pairc Ui Chaoimh etc enhances the game.

Alongside the new men in Cork and Tipperary, his initial task will be to freshen things up, bring in new faces and try to ensure that the depth of the squad is greater, similar to what is available to John Kiely in Limerick.

Fitzgerald has a firm base to build on, so too has Pat Ryan in Cork and, no doubt, Liam Cahill will try very hard to integrate more of the players into the Tipp senior plan after leading them to victory a short few years ago in the Under-21 and Under-20 All Ireland finals.

He will know a lot more about those players and what it will take to bring them forward.

Of course, Pat Ryan is very much in a similar position here after his great success with those younger players very recently.

A new manager fronting things up generates great anticipation in the counties where they have been appointed.

Already here on Leeside the debates are starting on what Ryan’s approach will be and about how he will go about strengthening the squad.

No doubt, that work has already began where he is concerned and Davy Fitz was quickly out of the blocks too in Waterford, attending a club game in the Fraher Field last Sunday.

This is a hugely important time for all team managers, particularly those who have been recently appointed, trying to find a player or two, maybe out in the back of the beyond, that could have something to offer.

The three new men in Munster have plenty of experience at club and intercounty level, Davy the most successful after his exploits with Clare in 2013.

Waterford manager Liam Cahill
Waterford manager Liam Cahill

Given how poorly the finalists in last season’s national league fared out subsequently, it will be very interesting to see how that competition will be approached.

And if the final is as close again to the commencement of the championship, will any county want to be in it.

It all adds up to another fascinating championship year even if it’s still such a long way in the distance.

And only one thing will dominate the plans of every management team when it begins, being one of the three counties that will come out of the provinces and into the All-Ireland series.

That’s first and foremost and now with so much change on the managerial front in Munster and, of course, in Leinster too with the departure of Brian Cody, that in itself will be a mammoth ask.

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