The Galway county board are on the lookout for a new senior hurling manager after the shock news broke late on Tuesday night that Micheál Donoghue and his backroom team would not be continuing in their roles after four seasons at the helm.
Donoghue famously led Galway to All-Ireland glory in 2017 with a three-point win over Waterford that ended a 29-year wait for the Liam McCarthy cup to travel west, and came within a whisker of claiming back-to-back titles when a storming comeback came up just short against Limerick in the 2018 decider.
Installed as manager in late December of 2015, after Anthony Cunningham was controversially ousted, Donoghue had previously led his club Clarinbridge to All-Ireland honours in 2011 and was also part of the Tipperary backroom team under Eamon O’Shea for two years prior to his appointment.
Donoghue saw off stiff competition from the current Dublin boss Mattie Kenny and Justin Campbell to land the role, and quickly installed Francis Forde and Noel Larkin as his right-hand men. In their first campaign, Galway were narrowly beaten by eventual champions Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final.
After claiming National League honours with a massive win over the same side in the spring of 2017, Galway marched through Leinster before edging out Tipp again by a solitary point in an epic semi-final. Waterford tested Galway’s character in the final but important substitutions by Donoghue helped turn the tide in the second half as Galwegians everywhere rejoiced.
Galway were favourites to repeat the trick in 2018, and claimed their third Leinster title in a row after a replay win over Kilkenny in Thurles. Another replay at the same venue was required to see off Clare in the semi-final, but the continuous run of games appeared to impact Galway’s form in the final as they fell nine points behind in the second half before a dramatic late surge almost reeled in Limerick.
An early exit from the championship in 2019 was unexpected, especially after beating Kilkenny in Nowlan Park, but with Joe Canning absent for all but a few minutes of the campaign, Kenny’s Dublin side finished strongly to win the final group game in Parnell Park, which combined with a convenient draw between Kilkenny and Wexford, left Donoghue shellshocked.
Having signed off on a two-year extension to his original deal in April of this year, it was expected that Donoghue would stay on for one more year, however the time commitments required to be an intercounty manager in the modern era surely had a part to play in his decision.
Speculation on who will put their name forward to succeed Donoghue has already begun in earnest, with current U20 boss Geoffrey Lynskey an obvious contender while it is doubtful that Kenny will be allowed to throw his hat into the ring for third time.
Micheál Donoghue’s statement to Galway Bay FM reads:
“I, together with the Galway Senior Hurling management team, today informed the Galway County Board that we are not taking up the fifth year of our term. We would like to thank Galway GAA for the opportunity they gave us to lead Galway hurling - it was the opportunity of a lifetime and was both an honour and privilege to do.
“We started out in December 2015 with the simple goal to bring success back to Galway hurling and to build a culture of professionalism and consistency in performance. Since then we have had some amazing days most notably the 2017 All Ireland success. After four seasons we feel the time is now right to hand on the opportunity to a new management team.
“We would like to thank the players for their honesty, dedication and commitment to their sport and county. We would like to acknowledge and thank our background team and support staff who worked with us for their expertise and service to the Galway Senior Hurling team.
“To our families and our employers - thank you for being so understanding and supportive of the time commitment a job like this takes. To our main sponsor, Supermacs and the many other sponsors who give so willingly their support - thank you, it is greatly appreciated.
“Finally, we thank the Galway hurling clubs and the Galway hurling supporters - your passion, commitment and connection with this team have made doing this job a joy.
“For us all, Galway hurling will continue to play a huge part in our hearts and lives and we wish Galway GAA every success in the future.