Who’s in the frame to replace Donoghue as the next Galway hurling boss?

GALWAY ARE ON the hunt for a new manager after 2017 All-Ireland winning boss Micheal Donoghue announced his surprise decision to step down on Tuesday night.

The circumstances surrounding Donoghue’s departure are a little unusual.

Former Galway manager Micheal Donoghue.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Back in July, Galway county board chairman Pat Kearney revealed that the Clarinbridge clubman had agreed a two-year extension to his term prior to the start of the championship which would bring him up to the end of the 2021 season.

Galway suffered a shock exit from the Leinster championship after their late defeat to Dublin in June. A draw in the game between Kilkenny and Wexford meant the Tribesmen exited on scoring difference despite losing just one game. 

“Obviously there are discussions around it but we want Micheal to stay on and look it, it’s only a hiccup along the line,” said Kearney three weeks after their summer ended.

“He’s indicated he’s staying on and he has been ratified for another two years.”

Former Galway boss and local journalist John McIntyre said on 2fm’s Game On last night that he believed Donoghue left after four years in charge for “family reasons”. Kieran Donaghy was part of Donoghue’s backroom team this year and made a similar observation on Off The Ball yesterday.

But there have been reports that the Galway players are unhappy that Donoghue, the man who ended their 29-year famine without the Liam MacCarthy, was allowed to walk away by the county board without a fight. 

Donoghue with David Burke after their win over Kilkenny.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The 44-year-old led his native county to two All-Ireland finals, beating Waterford in the decider two years ago and falling to Limerick in 2018. They also lifted two Leinster crowns and a National League title during his reign. 

Since 2017, Galway have played 20 championship matches and lost just two – the 2018 All-Ireland final by a point and the June defeat to Dublin by four. 

Galway’s 2019 campaign was rocked by a serious injury to star forward Joe Canning, while Conor Cooney missed two games with a shoulder problem and Conor Whelan was forced off just 25 minutes into the Dublin game.

A number of players missed the league due to extended runs in the club championship, while Joseph Cooney and Jonathan Glynn flew home from Australia and New York respectively to line out for the summer.

Speaking to The42 last month, Canning said he expected to see Donoghue back next season.

“I think he has another year if not two years so we’d be all happy anyway for sure to see him (back),” he said.

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Joe Canning and Micheal Donoghue celebrate after their 2017 All-Ireland success.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“As I said, his record in the last three years, it’s 20 games and two losses. There’s not too many other teams that have that. It’s just unfortunate that we lost one this year and we’re gone. Hopefully, he stays on.”

The task for the Galway county board is now to find a man capable of taking the baton from Donoghue and bringing this group back to the top. Kearney has stated they’re hoping to have Donoghue’s successor in place by the start of October.

It remains a very attractive position and Galway will begin the 2020 season as one of the favourites for the All-Ireland.

So who’s in line to replace him?

Mattie Kenny, Jeffrey Lynskey, Anthony Daly and Eamon O’Shea have been linked with the role.

Frontrunners

The early frontrunner for the position is Jeffrey Lynskey, who led the Tribesmen to three All-Ireland minor titles during his stint in charge from 2015 to 2018.

Double All-Ireland club winner and Galway native Mattie Kenny would be an obvious choice were he not one year into his reign as Dublin manager, which muddies the waters somewhat. But he remains heavily linked with the role.

Local contenders

Brian Hanley led the Galway minors to this year’s All-Ireland crown and is in the running, while Clare man Louis Mulqueen is highly-rated after steering Liam Mellows to the Galway SHC crown in 2017.

Another potential option is John Burke. He brought St Thomas to the All-Ireland club glory in 2013 and more recently was joint-manager of Oranmore-Maree for their All-Ireland intermediate win on St Patrick’s Day.

Gerry McInerney, also part of that Oranmore-Maree management team, and St Thomas boss Kevin Lally may come into the mix.

Outside choices

Given how attractive the position is, it’s no surprise that a number of high profile candidates from outside have also been linked with taking over from Donoghue.

Kilmacud Crokes manager Anthony Daly and ex-Waterford boss Derek McGrath have proven pedigree in the inter-county game, while Davy Fitzgerald would be another option if he decides not to commit to Wexford for another year.

One left-field choice would be Tipperary coach Eamon O’Shea, who lives and works in Galway where he operates as the head of Economics at NUIG.

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