No surprise Galway manager Walsh steps down after five years

The hunt for a new manager to take over the Galway senior football panel will be more difficult than many might expect, according to former All Ireland winning captain Ray Silke.

Silke, who played alongside Kevin Walsh for many years, believes the Killanin man "will not be easy to replace" after five years in the top job.

"A manager these days needs to make a huge commitment, needs to have contacts, a strong backroom team with performance analysts, to be able to compete with the likes of Kerry and Dublin. It takes a huge amount of energy, commitment and time, and so after five years, it is not a complete surprise Kevin has decided to step down."

Among the list of possible replacements are former players Padraic Joyce, who was in charge of the U20s this season, and John Divilly; former Mayo man Stephen Rochford, who has already made a commitment to Donegal; Cian O'Neill, who stepped down from Kildare after four seasons; and Tuam's Alan O'Flynn, former Galway U21 football winning manager.

Silke says although the past season had not been as successful as many would have hoped, and there had been some disappointing results, such as losing to Roscommon, Walsh had brought a stability to Galway football that had been lacking. Players, he says, also have to take some responsibility for the results.

"Kevin has made a huge contribution to Galway football, has worked extremely hard, and cannot be faulted for the effort. People forget that last year Galway beat Kerry for the first time since the 1965 All-Ireland final, and only lost to Dublin - a side unbeaten for five years. This year Damien Comer was out injured, and players can also ask themselves, if they could have done more."

He brought the Tribesman two Connacht titles as well as promotion to Divison One but after exiting the 2019 Championship in the round 4 qualifier versus Mayo, Walsh has left the role.

Kevin Walsh informed the board of his decision this week, saying it had been an "honour and a privilege".

"When we took over in 2015, we sought to introduce structures to achieve the two core objectives of making Galway football more competitive and leaving Galway football in a better position. Over 25 players have made their senior championship debuts for Galway since then and the commitment of the players over the years has been one of the key factors in achieving those objectives. We would like to thank them for their dedication and friendship.

"We wish to acknowledge the substantial contribution of the backroom team in putting in place the systems and processes that have been the foundation of what was built over the past few years.

I emphatically believe that there are great things to come for Galway football. Having had the opportunity to work with professionals at the top of their field over the last number of years, I would like to see the recommendations in our reports to the County Board which included facilities and equipment, operations, alignment and development of underage teams through to senior level, finance, competition structures, player development and welfare, medical screening and deep level coaching continue to be implemented in the interests of Galway football going forward.

"I am honoured to have been given my chance to leave Galway football in a better place and I wish the players and new management team every success in the future."

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