Jack Cooney is the preferred choice for the Westmeath senior football manager’s job following the resignation of Colin Kelly following the Lake County’s 3-16 to 1-11 defeat to Armagh in round one of the football qualifiers this evening.
Cooney was a selector with Westmeath during the tenures of Luke Dempsey and Paidi O’Se. The former player went for the manager’s job at the end of 2014 but was pipped to the position by Tom Cribbins. In 2015 he became a coach/selector in Rory Gallagher’s backroom team in Donegal.
He has managed his native Coralstown/Kinnegad and Kildare side Newbridge and is a popular choice to take over from Kelly.
Kelly had been appointed manager last September taking over from Tom Cribbins who also resigned following a qualifier defeat to the Orchard County.
Louth man Kelly guided his native county to back to back promotions but was unable to achieve that with Westmeath. Following the Lake County’s promotion from Division 4 they finished in fourth place in Division 3.
Westmeath were heavily beaten by Laois in the Leinster Championship but have been hampered by injuries and also lost vice-captain James Dolan who opted to travel to America for the summer.
Kelly cited the five hour commute for training as the reason behind him stepping down less than one year after he was appointed. He said: “It’s a massive commitment for me; I’ve a young family getting to the age now – I’ve a young girl and boy playing soccer and Gaelic in Dublin. Today I was at soccer in Wicklow and I came straight to here. That’s not an excuse; I’ve enjoyed my time here. I’ve a great relationship with Billy Foley and Pat Reilly (Chairman and Secretary of the County Board) and I’ve made some great friends among the players,” he said.
Many in Westmeath have wanted a native to take charge of their footballers and Kelly hinted that maybe it was time to give a Westmeath man the job: “We’ve had some fun along the way and maybe it’s time for a Westmeath man to take it on.”
Westmeath County Board Chairman Billy Foley thanked Kelly for his services: “Colin’s commitment to Westmeath was outstanding right throughout the year and we really appreciate his and his team’s efforts during the past year.”