7 new Hurling managers ahead of the 2017 Allianz Hurling League
As the new Allianz Hurling League is set to begin in the next few weeks, I have decided to give our readers on Sportstalk.ie the lowdown on some familiar faces that will be manning the side lines for the upcoming season. There are some managers that have seen it all and done it all so far with different county teams in the past, but they have since moved on to different challenges such as the teams below. There are new managers in county Wexford, Clare, Limerick, Offaly, Laois, Kerry and Carlow.
- Davy Fitzgerald (Wexford) – Fitzgerald departed his native Clare in controversial circumstances but just 16 days after stepping down from his role as Banner boss the Sixmilebridge club man was swooped by Wexford in what was a surprising move to say the least, many thought Fitzgerald would have taken a break away from managing for a few months but Wexford came calling for the services of the former All-Ireland winning manager. Fitzgerald will join a Wexford side who are talented and will be looking for them to gain promotion in the league. This will in fact be Fitzgerald’s 10th successive season in inter-county management, as in 2008 he took up the mantle in Waterford not long after retiring himself from the game. There will be a lot of travelling for Fitzgerald and his backroom team and he faces six hour round trips to the sunny south east for training and home games.
- Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor (Clare) – The Clare job was up for grabs once Davy Fitzgerald vacated the position. Many people thought former Clare hurler and captain Anthony Daly would throw his hat in the ring again but the 1995 All-Ireland opted against this and that widened the door open for former U-21 joint managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor. These two coaches would have worked a lot with the current crop of players and they are both very successful having guided the Clare U-21 hurlers to three All-Ireland titles in a row. In addition to the duo, Donal Og Cusack retains his coaching role despite rumours spreading that he would go to Wexford with Fitzgerald.
- John Kiely (Limerick) – John Kiely (below) was installed as Limerick boss in September 2016. Kiely has a huge amount of experience at inter-county level having guided the Limerick U-21 hurlers to All-Ireland success in 2015, while he was also a part of John Allen’s backroom team in 2013 when Limerick were crowned Munster Champions after defeating Cork at the Gaelic Grounds. Kiely will be under pressure to get Limerick out of Division 1b, however his side will face difficult assignments against Wexford and Galway in the division. Kiely also will accomplished footballers Stephen Cahill and Gearoid Hegarty to select for games this year, as both have decided to focus on the small ball for 2017.
- Kevin Ryan (Offaly) – After a debate at a county board meeting in November, Kevin Ryan was ratified as the manager of the Offaly senior hurlers. Ryan, a native of Co. Waterford won 5 county titles with his club Mount Sion in his playing days, while he also captained the Waterford U-21 and senior sides in the past. He coached Mount Sion to county titles also, while he also coached Wexford side Oulart the Ballagh to numerous county titles, in 2012 he took over Carlow and that same year won the Christy Ring Cup with them. Ryan also managed Antrim at senior and U-21 level. In 2013 he guided the U-21 hurlers to an All-Ireland Final, when they shell shocked a fancied Wexford side, before succumbing to an excellent Clare side in the final.
- Eamonn Kelly (Laois) – Kelly was in charge of Offaly last season but after a year in charge of the Faithful county he stepped down last August citing personal and business demands as his reason for doing so. However, just 3 months later, Kelly found himself just over the border in Laois as their new boss. Kelly has a wealth of experience and the Kildangan man has also managed Galway side Loughrea, Silvermines of Tipperary, University of Limerick and Clare’s Sixmilebridge.
- Fintan O’Connor (Kerry) – The former Waterford selector takes over from Ciaran Carey as Kerry’s new hurling boss for 2017. O’Connor takes up the role for an initial two years having coached the Waterford Institute of Technology team for three years, including the 2014 Fitzgibbon Cup success. An interesting fact is that O’Connor has actually never played the game of hurling, but he certainly has the capabilities of becoming an excellent manager as his success with Cappoquin (Waterford) in 2014 proves this with a county and Munster title at the intermediate grade adding to the Fitzgibbon Cup win that same year.
- Colm Bonnar (Carlow) – Bonnar stepped aside from his role as co-manager of Ballyhale Shamrocks in Kilkenny to take up the role as boss of the Carlow senior hurlers. He helped guide Ballyhale to 2015 All-Ireland club honours, while in the past he has been part of the Waterford backroom team and has coached the Wexford senior hurlers. Bonnar will have a massive job on his hands though, as Carlow were relegated to the Christy Ring Cup last season.