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Dublin: 7°C Sunday 29 November 2020

6 hurling bosses feeling the heat ahead of championship 2016

This sextet of gaffers need big performances from their counties.

1. Micheál Donoghue (Galway)

Micheal Donoghue

Donoghue was the man who stepped into the Galway hotseat following the controversial player heave that signalled the end of Anthony Cunningham’s reign last year.

Not even All-Ireland final appearances in 2012 and 2015 were good enough for the Galway players, who were ahead at half-time in last year’s decider against Kilkenny before letting it slip.

Donoghue knows that anything less than a final appearance will represent regression and the 2016 season to date has been a difficult one, with Galway relegated from Division 1A of the Allianz League.

Galway have a favourable Leinster SHC draw on paper, with an obvious path to the final, and winning the provincial title would buy Donoghue some valuable breathing space.

2. Liam Dunne (Wexford)

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

This is Dunne’s fifth season at the helm and he could badly do with an upturn in fortunes.

Wexford barely raised a gallop in Division 1B of the Allianz League and didn’t feature in the promotion race.

Jack Guiney’s withdrawal from the squad was an unwanted distraction and Andrew Shore’s cruciate ligament injury an untimely blow.

Wexford were making progress under Dunne, particularly in 2014 when they knocked out then All-Ireland champions Clare, but last season was hugely disappointing.

3. Michael Ryan (Tipperary)

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

It’s Ryan’s first season in charge but he’ll be feeling the pressure nonetheless.

Expectation levels are always sky-high in the Premier County and he took over a team that won last year’s Munster title.

The aim for Ryan is to retain provincial silverware and push on for the All-Ireland title that has eluded Tipp since he was selector in 2010.

There’s a definite direct approach to Tipp’s play this year but with some undoubtedly class stickmen in their ranks, the key for Ryan is to marry a variety of styles effectively and to also come up with different game-plans to counteract what his opponents come up with.

4. Seamus Plunkett (Laois)

Source: Lorraine OÕSullivan/INPHO

Plunkett is one of the most methodical managers in the modern game but this has been a disastrous campaign for Laois.

The O’Moore men lost all five of their Division 1B outings, and a play-off against Kerry, but still managed to retain second tier League status by beating Westmeath.

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Laois gave Galway a rattle in the 2014 Leinster championship but sank without trace against the same opposition last year.

As things stand, they could end up meeting Galway again in the Leinster semi-final but will have to get past the round-robin runners-up first, and that’s not a given going on the evidence we’ve seen from Laois so far this year.

5. TJ Ryan (Limerick)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

After running Kilkenny desperately close in the 2014 All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final, Limerick boss TJ Ryan was rewarded with a fresh three-year deal.

But if the Shannonsiders don’t enjoy a profitable championship campaign, former playing star Ryan may not reach the end of that agreement.

Ryan is a passionate man and that’s to be commended but his emotions boiled over after the League quarter-final victory over Dublin, when he rounded on his team’s detractors.

The Garryspillane man will need a cool head in the heat of battle against Tipp or Cork on 19 June but a win there could provide the springboard for a successful season.

6. Ger Cunningham (Dublin)

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Cunningham made some big calls at the back end of last year, deeming former squad members Simon Lambert and Alan Nolan surplus to requirements.

Cunningham’s clearly not afraid to ruffle feathers and despite a heavy opening day League defeat at the hands of Tipperary, Dublin enjoyed a decent League campaign and reached the knockout stages.

That was job done for the spring as far as Cunningham was concerned and he won’t have been unduly worried by losing to Limerick in the quarter-finals.

As a Cork player, goalkeeping legend Cunningham was judged on championship summers and Dublin’s opener against Wexford is a critical game, with the winners given the dubious reward of facing Kilkenny in the semi-finals.

– An earlier version of this article stated that it is Liam Dunne’s fourth season as Wexford manager; it is his fifth.

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