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Cathal Noonan New Dublin manager Ger Cunningham.
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John Gardiner: 'Ger was players' choice for Cork boss after '06, now he's ideal fit for Dublin'’s hurling columnist on a busy night on the managerial front in Cork and Dublin.

WHEN JOHN ALLEN stepped down as Cork manager after the 2006 All-Ireland final, there was a clear favourite amongst the players to replace him.

We knew Ger Cunningham and we’d worked with him. He had been involved in the coaching and commanded huge respect. We always thought he was the next man in but it never happened. When he went in under Jimmy Barry-Murphy, that sense that he would become the next manager emerged again.

It hasn’t happened with him for Cork though and now it is Dublin where Ger is going to make his senior inter-county managerial bow. He’s ticked every box up to now. His playing career speaks for itself and he’s had roles with Cork as a selector and in coaching in two different eras. He’s done club stuff in Cork and Waterford, and has built up plenty experience with UCC in recent years.

From my experience working under him, he brings massive attention to detail to a squad. He is very good technically in terms of drills and is an excellent man-manager. He’s able to motivate players and the management team around him. On the day of a game, he is tactically shrewd, well able to read a match and can make good switches.

I would like to have seen him take charge of Cork at some stage. He’s seen other teammates from his playing days fill that role but it hasn’t happened for him. He’s an ideal fit for Dublin now. I think Anthony Daly had a very good stint there. Dublin will be delighted at what he brought them and he’ll be delighted with his managerial achievements there.

Anthony Daly celebrates Morgan Treacy / INPHO Anthony Daly celebrates Dublin's 2013 Leinster final win. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

But after giving so much to it, there was a fresh voice and impetus needed in Dublin. Ger can provide that. Dublin have the type of player that won’t be found wanted in the physical stakes but in my opinion he’ll improve them now as hurlers. Dublin needed someone they could respect. They’ll have seen what Ger did as a player and know what he can bring to the table for them. It’s a great pick.

Before Ger’s appointment was confirmed last night, it was announced Jimmy Barry-Murphy was staying with Cork. I wasn’t surprised at all by that move. From a county board point of view, Jimmy is the ideal guy. He has an excellent reputation and will be seen to have had a successful spell so far. Cork reached an All-Ireland final in the second year under his watch and then he brought silverware back to the county last July.

I would have imagined that negotiations were straightforward and simple. The board wanted to keep Jimmy and weren’t interested in rocking the boat. Winning that Munster title was a huge boost for the county. The All-Ireland semi-final saw a heavy defeat against Tipperary but in the overall review of the year, the Munster final victory would have been honed in on.

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Jimmy Barry Murphy celebrates after the game James Crombie / INPHO Jimmy Barry-Murphy celebrates Cork's win over Limerick last July James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

You have to give Jimmy credit as well this year for how he got the team to recover from last September’s loss to Clare and for bringing in a bunch of new players. A lot of hurling people in Cork will be happy that there’s stability for another two years.

I think he’ll have to look to freshen up his backroom team. Ger Cunningham was a massive loss since last year given his hands-on approach and the work he did on the training pitch. I don’t know if they completely filled the void this year that his departure created.

The dual player debate has cropped up again as Jimmy has agreed to stay on. Aidan Walsh has said he is only going to go with one team next year. Eoin Cadogan didn’t get much hurling game time this year and Damien Cahalane is the third player in that bracket. It’ll be an issue that Cork will be hoping to address early before next season.

Aidan Walsh and Eoin Cadogan look on from the sideline 9/3/2014 Donall Farmer / INPHO Cork's Aidan Walsh and Eoin Cadogan. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

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