To much shock within the Westmeath GAA community, Jack Cooney has departed his role as as senior football manager.
The surprise announcement was confirmed on Saturday afternoon, the county board confirming that Cooney will now fulfil the role of National Player Development Lead position for the GAA in Croke Park.
Cooney, who was appointed to the role of Westmeath GAA senior football manager in September 2018, culminated his four year term with the proud annexation of the Tailteann Cup, a moment to be treasured by all Lake County supporters for years to come.
The Coralstown/Kinnegad clubman brought a wealth if experience into the position following his ratification in 2018, having served as team selector when Westmeath claimed a historic Leinster senior football championship success in 2004.
The well publicised platitudes afforded to Cooney since the announcement of his managerial departure highlights the esteem in which he was held by current and past players whom he guided in the county colours since 2018 and he will be sorely missed when the competitive season returns in early 2023.
Announcing his departure, Cooney noted that his reason for departing the role he has served with aplomb since 2018.
“The Player Development area is one in which I have invested a lot of time academically in the past few years, and this is an opportunity for me to work in the area in a full time capacity. I have had an extremely enjoyable spell involved in Inter-County football, commencing as a selector with Westmeath almost twenty years ago, the highlight of that period being the annexing of the first-ever Leinster title, under the leadership of the great Páidí Ó Sé.
"In more recent years I was involved with Rory Gallagher in Donegal, and during these periods I learned a lot of what it takes to be successful at the top-level. Since becoming Manager of my native county, I have worked with a fantastic bunch of players, whose commitment to playing and preparation at this level is second-to-none; they certainly deserved the success they achieved this year when we overcame Cavan in the first-ever Tailteann Cup final.
"I would like to thank each one of them for their support to me. I have also worked with a wonderful group of coaches and selectors, and I thank them for their support. We have a wonderful backroom team, all of whom are totally committed to Westmeath football, and I thank them for their hard work and dedication. We have a wonderful band of loyal supporters, and I will never forget the Croke Park support this year, and the reception we received from thousands of people in the streets of Mullingar when we brought the Tailteann Cup home. The support of the clubs of the county, and, of course, the officers of the county and football board, under the leadership of Frank Mescall and Billy Foley, has been outstanding during my tenure; without this great support I would not haver been able to carry out my role. And finally, a thank you to my wife, Elaine, and our family, for their unwavering support to me during this period," Cooney asserted.
Noting his disappointment at losing Cooney from the Westmeath senior football manager's role, county board chairperson, Frank Mescall, lauded his commitment to the Lake County cause during his four year term.
“We are extremely disappointed to lose Jack Cooney as County Team Manager but are very proud of the fact that he is taking up this prestigious role for the GAA at National level. Jack’s commitment to Westmeath football has been magnificent throughout his career, from the time he wore the maroon himself, through his period as a selector in the early-noughties, and his time as Senior Team Manager for the past four years, culminating in our annexing of the Tailteann Cup this year.
"On behalf of all Westmeath Gaels, I say Míle Buíochas, Jack, and wish you the very best of good fortune in your new role. We have no doubt that given his commitment to Westmeath, that Jack’s experience and knowledge will not be lost to us in the county, and we look forward to seeing him undertaking different roles in the future.I confirm that the process to find a successor to Jack will commence immediately," Mescall stated.