Inter-county management in most counties a tough station

Ironically I was out pucking a few sliotars around with the children on the An Ghaeltacht club pitch in the stunningly beautiful Gallarus at Baille na nGall, in West Kerry last week, home club to the late Páidí Ó Sé, when I got a text message to say that Paul Bealin had been let go as Westmeath senior county manager.

I could not help thinking back to the heady days of 2004, and the county’s 0-12 to 0-10 Leinster final win over Laois and David O'Shaughnessy raising the Delaney Cup. A lot has changed in Leinster since then.

For me, there was no massive surprise with the decision to oust Bealin as Westmeath have endured a horrid year of results, and the summer defeats to Louth and Cavan were always going to have some fall-out. Bealin is an experienced football man, who knows the inter-county circuit pretty well and he will have known that what happened to him last week was a distinct possibility, once the team stayed losing. It is a results driven business.

Even if some people's expectations can be a tad unrealistic, the reality is that regardless of who takes over in most counties that are struggling and finding it difficult to find a group of top class players, it is a very onerous job. Jack O'Connor, when he was Kerry manager, said that 40 hours a week was the actual time investment, however, you never fully switched off from thinking about what needed to be done. Supporters, players, and county boards expect some degree of success, and that can be difficult to achieve, whether it is Westmeath, Wicklow, or anywhere else.

Here in my own home patch in Galway, current hurling manager, Anthony Cunningham, has three other men nominated with him for the job for 2015, and board have said they are not ruling out looking elsewhere. After getting to an All-Ireland final in 2012 and taking Kilkenny to a replay, it looks like he will have to scrape tooth and nail to stay in the role for another year.

Not everyone can be in the envious position of Brian Cody or Jim Gavin and have massively talented squads bursting at the seams with top quality players, and colossal resources at their disposal too in order to max out on the potential in the squad. With Dublin so awesomely strong in Leinster at the moment, and that will continue, and Westmeath having had a woeful year, and having been quick enough to remove their last two incumbents, how many people will be queuing up for the bainisteoir bib for next year?


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