Paul Conroy was Galway’s All-Ireland minor winning captain in 2007. Next year in Division 2 of the National league, he will probably play county football under his fourth senior manager. He has already outstayed Liam Sammon who got two years (2008 and 2009 ), Joe Kernan (one year ), and now Tomás Ó Flatharta (10 months ).
How could anyone expect Conroy be at the top of his game at county level having been coached by three different managers in his four years in a Galway senior jersey? Other relatively young players like Gary Sice and Seán Armstrong will be under their fifth senior manager next season. Four managers in five years at senior county football is asinine and beg two questions;
One, who is picking them in the first place? And secondly, who is shafting them and why?
Former All-Ireland winner with Galway and current Kilkerrin/ Clonberne manager John Divilly in a national paper recently described some of the recent manager selections as “solo-runs”.
Stability is key for player and squad development and Galway have not had any at senior level for too long now. The next Galway manager should be given a few years to find his feet.
Nobody with even a scant knowledge of Gaelic football would promote the notion that Galway is blessed with a teeming panel of tremendously talented players. But how can you expect to develop players and leaders in a dressing-room when the manager keeps getting ousted?
This county has won All-Ireland u-21 titles in 2002, 2005 and 2011, so surely there should be a few players of substance around the place. We are not world beaters, but we should be performing and competing at a higher level than we have been over the past few years. Nobody is talking about winning any major silverware, but some incremental progress or even solidity should not be too much to expect.
A common thread in the termination of Sammon, Kernan and Ó Flatharta has been the current Galway county football chairman. John Joe Holleran is a very passionate Galway football man and he has been hugely involved in Galway football formore than 30 years. As county chairman he was a key individual in deciding to remove Sammon and appoint Kernan and Ó Flatharta as Galway managers, which, for different reasons, were poor decisions.
I was completely against Joe Kernan’s appointment as Galway manager. It was daftness and never stacked up in my opinion. Distance, expense, limited local knowledge, etc, etc. After going outside for a manager in 2010, and it not working, why compound that mistake by repeating it and going outside again for 2011?
It is good to know that the logical decision has finally been arrived at to go for a local man this time and leave him alone to get on with the job the best he and his management team can.
As current senior captain Finian Hanley pointed out last weekend;
“Why are managers being appointed as quickly as they are being let go? It is a massive blow for any hope of making progress in the county. You have to ask the questions of the people who are making the decisions at the top table.”
If the people charged with picking the county manager keep getting their selections wrong as evidenced by their decision to sack two of them inside 12 months, surely they need to look in the mirror and ask the question, “are they the problem, or are we”?
For too long the lines of responsibilities have been blurred.
The interaction between team management and administration have become increasingly difficult to separate. While the administrators and officials are dispassionately keeping the county’s football strategy on track, team managers and coaches should be left to do what they have been asked to do and rarely should the twain meet.
Another serious problem for Galway football that is not being addressed is the perceived or real existence of a closed shop. So much so that many people are stepping back from even considering getting involved in the administration side of the game in the county.
How many officers, some of them excellent people, are re-elected each year with no contest for their positions? There are very few fresh faces at county board level. That is not a healthy situation and unless you have some fresh blood, how will you have fresh ideas?
Apathy is a terrible bed fellow and yet it is rampant among many former football supporters. Each club has a role to play to bring about change.