Paul Clancy knew he had big boots to fill when he decided to put his name forward for the post of Garrycastle manager earlier this year. Anthony Cunningham had, after all, guided the Altown outfit to the three-in-a row of county titles. He was at the helm on their memorable journey which saw them become the first Westmeath side ever to be crowned provincial champions and come within a whisker of all-Ireland glory against Crossmaglen last March.
Most managers would run a mile from what could turn out to be a poisoned chalice and would opt for an up and coming team as opposed to one which has been at its peak for some time now.
Clancy however saw this both as a challenge and an opportunity and so far has no regrets as he looks forward to Sunday’s encounter.
From the club’s point of view too it was something of a leap of faith in appointing someone who had limited experience at managing at this level. Clancy has had a fine career in the maroon and white of Galway and has since gained some valuable experience working alongside Justin McNulty in Laois. Yet this is new territory for him.
In many ways a new manager with new ideas was exactly what Garrycastle needed this year to prevent staleness from setting in. Experienced defender Doran Harte was quick to praise Clancy for giving youth a chance and highlighted the number of less familiar names which have appeared on team-sheets throughout this year’s championship. It will be interesting to see which starting fifteen he goes with on Sunday.
Clancy is typical of the new breed of manager who are young and energetic and keen to prove themselves. It worked in Wexford with Jason Ryan and of course for Donegal with Jimmy McGuinness. Who knows, if the leap of faith pays off and Garrycastle get the right result The Dollar might just be banging out “Paulie’s winning matches, Paulie’s winning games...” in Dan’s Tavern on Sunday night.