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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018

Welcome to the jungle! 13 new managers getting set for the 2017 inter-county GAA season

We’ll have six new managers in football and seven in hurling.


1. Billy Lee (Limerick)

Limerick players arrive out for the start of the match Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

THE NEWCASTLE WEST man was initially placed on a six-man committee tasked with finding John Brudair’s replacement. He missed the first meeting due to a family holiday and by the time he showed up to the second meeting, he was no longer part of the committee as his name had been put into the mix to take the hot seat.

Lee, who was handed a two-year term, previously managed the county’s U21s and was a selector in Liam Kearns’s senior set-up between 1999 and 2005.

For his debut season in charge, Lee said he’s targeting promotion from Divison 4 and aiming to achieve a first victory in the Munster SFC since 2012.

2. Seamus McEnaney (Wexford)

Seamus McEnaney Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The most interesting appointment of the GAA’s off-season. “Banty” is back in inter-county management for the first time since 2012, when his time in charge of Meath ended.

McEnaney previously enjoyed a successful spell in charge of his native Monaghan. In the last few years he’s been involved with the Monaghan ladies team and Ulster’s inter-provincial side.

Wexford are facing a second straight season in Division 4, while they’ll face Dublin in the Leinster quarter-final if they can see-off Carlow first.

McEnaney recently stated he’s getting familiar with all the technological improvements the game has witnessed since his last role with the Royals.

3. Andy McEntee (Meath)

Andy McEntee Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The 2016 All-Ireland winning club boss has said from the outset that his primary aim is to close the gap between Meath and Dublin.

McEntee enjoyed a highly successful spell in the capital with Ballyboden St Enda’s, winning the Dublin, Leinster and All-Ireland titles before signing off with a county Division 1 success last December.

He’s already been putting his stamp on the squad, testing out former full-forward Joe Sheridan (32) in goals. McEntee has also convinced former Dublin underage players Stephen O’Connor, Stuart Lowndes and Darragh Kelly to declare for the Royals for 2017.

Padraic Harnan rejoins the squad after returning from work placement in New Zealand.

4. Peter Creedon (Laois)

Peter Creedon Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Peter Creedon, who managed Tipperary from 2012-15, succeeds Mick Lillis in charge of Laois for the coming year.

The West Cork native is a principal at Cahir’s Coláiste Dún Iascaigh and is based in Thurles, which meant travel to the midlands county wasn’t a major issue.

He called for the introduction of an All-Ireland ‘B’ championship in 2013, in the wake of Tipperary’s 17-point defeat to Kerry in the Munster SFC quarter-final.

Creedon takes over on a two-year term, becoming the county’s fifth manager since 2009. Laois slipped into Division 3 last year. He’ll also take charge of the U21 footballers.

5. Mattie McGleenan (Cavan)

Matt McGleenan 23/3/1997 Source: ©INPHO

Mattie McGleenan is entering his rookie season in inter-county management, but he earned his stripes in the club game in recent years.

The former Tyrone forward enjoyed a highly successful spell in charge of Monaghan kingpins Scotstown. Three county titles in the last four years persuaded Cavan head-hunt McGleenan for the hot seat.

Before his arrival in Scotstown, they hadn’t won a senior club title in 20 years.

McGleenan recently revealed he considered making a move for the Tyrone minor job in 2015, but Scotstown’s run to the Ulster SFC club final put paid to those ambitions.

McGleenan won Ulster titles with Tyrone in 1995 and ’96. He’ll take on his native county in the McKenna Cup opener this weekend.

6. Benny Guckian (Leitrim)

A general view of Pairc Sean MacDiarmada before the game Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Benny Guckian replaces Shane Ward as manager of Leitrim, who departs the county after two years in charge.

Significantly, 1994 Connacht title-winning manager John O’Mahony comes on board in an advisory capacity to Guckian.

Guckian previously took charge of Leitrim U21s. Leitrim are set for another campaign in Division 4 and will face a trip to London in the Connacht SFC quarter-final on May 28. The winners play Roscommon in the last four.


7. Davy Fitzgerald (Wexford)

Davy Fitzgerald Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Following his controversial departure from his native Clare, Fitzgerald was a free agent for just 16 days before the lure of inter-county management came calling again.

The former All-Ireland winning manager and player joins Wexford, with a talented bunch of youngsters who’ve yet to enjoy senior success at his disposal.

The man who took over Waterford not long after retiring in 2008 is entering his tenth straight year in inter-county management. He faces six-hour round-trips to the south-east for training and home games.

8. John Kiely (Limerick)

John Kiely Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Last September, John Kiely was installed as the Limerick boss for a three-year term.

Kiely steered the county’s U21s to All-Ireland success in 2015 and served in John Allen’s backroom team in 2013 when Limerick were crowned Munster senior champions.

Limerick will play in the second tier of the National Hurling League for a seventh consecutive season. Kiely secured a coup with the news that Gearoid Hegarty and Stephen Cahill, both of whom are accomplished inter-county footballers, will be focused solely on the small ball in 2017.

Kevin Downes will miss the entire season due to a cruciate injury.

9. Fintan O’Connor (Kerry)

Derek McGrath and Fintan O'Connor celebrate Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

The ex-Waterford selector Fintan O’Connor replaces Ciaran Carey as Kerry’s new hurling boss for 2017. O’Connor takes charge on an initial two-year term, having coached the Waterford IT team for three years, including for their 2014 Fitzgibbon Cup success.

O’Connor has an interesting relationship with the sport, having never played a game of hurling himself.

The Kildare native’s first introduction to the small ball code was when he started as a teacher in Blackwater Community School in September 2003 and saw first-year student Maurice Shanahan carrying a hurley with him.

He also managed Waterford club side Cappoquin to Waterford and Munster IHC success in 2014.

10. Kevin Ryan (Offaly)

Kevin Ryan Source: Presseye/John McIlwaine/INPHO

After a lengthy debate at a county board meeting in November, Kevin Ryan was ratified as the new Offaly hurling manager.

The ex-Waterford hurler won five county titles during his playing days with Mount Sion and he captained the Deise at both U21 and senior level.

As a manager he masterminded county title wins for his native Mount Sion and Wexford’s Oulart-the-Ballagh, as well as leading Carlow to Christy Ring Cup glory in 2012.

A former Antrim boss, he guided the county’s U21s to the All-Ireland final in 2013, when they shell-schocked a fancied Wexford outfit before succumbing to a star-studded Clare side in the final.

11. Eamonn Kelly (Laois)

Matthew Whelan with Eamonn Kelly after the game Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

After a year in charge of the Faithful County, Eamonn Kelly stepped down last August citing “personal and business demands.”

In November he turned up in neighbouring Laois as their new boss. Kelly endured a difficult year in charge of Offaly, during which he was subjected to horrific abuse in the form of anonymous phone calls.

The Kildangan man managed to turn things around after a defeat to Westmeath by guiding Offaly to the provincial semi-finals. He was previously in charge of Kerry, leading them to the Christy Ring title in 2015 as well as promotion to the All-Ireland SHC and Division 1B.

He’s also managed Galway’s Loughrea, Clare’s Sixmilebridge, the University of Limerick, and Silvermines of Tipperary.

12. Colm Bonnar (Carlow)

Colm Bonnar Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Former Tipperary star Colm Bonnar recently stood down as co-manager of Ballyhale Shamrocks to take charge of Carlow.

He helped guide Ballyhale to 2015 All-Ireland club honours. In the past he was part of the Waterford backroom team, before spending three years in charge of Wexford.

Carlow were recently relegated to the Christy Ring Cup, leaving Bonnar with a difficult task in his first year in charge.

13. Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor (Clare)

Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor, the men who steered Clare to an All-Ireland U21 three-in-a-row, replace outgoing Davy Fitzgerald in charge of the Banner.

Donal Og Cusack retains his coaching role as this talented young Clare crop move on from five years under Fitzgerald. Moloney and O’Connor have a good relationship with Clare’s talented young squad, haven’t coached the majority of them at some point in the past.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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