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Big Joe Kernan’s future in balance

Galway manager Joe Kernan will meet officers of the county board next week to review what he describes as “a disappointing six months” since he stepped into the post.

The Tribesmen were beaten by Sligo after a replay in the semi-final of the Connacht championship and then lost to Wexford in the second round of the All Ireland qualifiers — results that heaped rather more pressure on Kernan who had watched his side blow hot and cold during the National League.

But the 2002 Armagh All Ireland winning manager is offering no excuses for Galway’s Championship failure even though a number of key players have been absent for long spells through injury.

“The people of Galway expected more this year and we as a management team and the players were unable to deliver this,” says Kernan.

“We will sit down and assess the situation. Galway last won the All Ireland title in 2001 and the hope is that this famine can be ended.”

But he is particularly keen to continue in his role although he admits that next week’s meeting will prove crucial in this context.

“Naturally I am anxious to see Galway progress but I am there on a gentleman’s agreement. I would like to discuss all aspects of the management set-up with the county board and we will see what the outcome is,” adds Kernan.

Galway’s season was blighted by injuries to established players such as Nicky Joyce, Damien Burke, Cormac Bane, Fachtna Breatnach, Finian Hanley and of course ace sharpshooter Michael Meeehan at critical stages of the season.

“Every manager needs all his main players on board and while we rarely had that luxury I am not complaining. I feel there is a lot of talent in Galway otherwise I would not have taken the job in the first place. As is the case with all counties the big task is harnessing the talent into a winning unit which can take time,” says Kernan.

And while his future remains in the melting pot, it is understood that the Ulster-based Leitrim management duo of Mickey Moran and John Morrison are prepared to commit themselves to the county for another year.

The pair were forced to battle against injury problems and the loss of key players through emigration while the tragic death of Philly McGuinness devastated the squad.

“It has been a very difficult year from several viewpoints but we feel there is a great depth of youthful talent in Leitrim and they are great players to work with. We would feel that we could perhaps make more progress next year,” says Morrison.

Meanwhile, Peter McGrath could be set for a return to county management.

The Rostrevor man who led Down to All Ireland glory in both 1991 and 1994 has been linked with the vacant managerial post in Cavan.

McGrath has an impeccable track record dating back as far as his time in St Colman’s College and his 1987 All Ireland success with Down minors.

His name has been linked with a number of counties in recent times including his native Down and Louth.

He also had the distinction of managing the Ireland International Rules team and only last season guided Down to the All Ireland Under-21 decider.

It remains to be seen if McGrath is prepared to make the move back into management for just now he’s a regular summariser with RTE.

Belfast Telegraph


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