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Joe Kernan: Axe looms large for county bosses

Joe Kernan

Making predictions during the Championship season is invariably a dangerous pursuit.

Those who decide to put their heads above the parapet to make bold pronouncements run the risk of being left with egg splattered all over their faces and with their credibility seriously damaged into the bargain.

But although we have still to see round two of the All Ireland Football Qualifiers completed and all four provincial titles decided, I will stick my neck out and suggest that the number of managerial casualties could reach double figures by the end of August.

Donegal manager John Joe Doherty and Mayo boss John O’Mahoney lost no time in handing in their resignations following their respective capitulations to Armagh and Longford in the Qualifiers.

Unlike the beleaguered — and ferociously lampooned — England manager Fabio Capello, they did not take two weeks in which to consider their options and seek a lucrative exit — they simply bit the bullet and rode off into the sunset.

But they will not be the only bosses to part company with their counties.

Mick O’Dwyer (Wicklow), Jason Ryan (Wexford) and Sean Dempsey (Laois) are just three who are likely to sever the umbilical cord with their counties although there is already speculation that the 74-year-old Kingdom legend O’Dwyer may yet decide to throw his hat into the Mayo ring.

Indeed, if Cavan fail to put on an impressive show in the Qualifiers against Cork on Saturday week, O’Dwyer could well find himself in the frame to succeed

Tommy Carr who has been under pressure for some time in the Breffni county.

And another Ulster manager currently feeling the heat is Derry’s Damian Cassidy.

His team won their first round Qualifier tie against Carlow but an even more handsome victory over Westmeath will be required on Saturday week if Cassidy is to fend off the barbs coming in his direction.

Derry have failed to make an impact in a Championship context, although to be fair to Cassidy he has been saddled with injuries and the reported defection of three experienced players — Kevin McCloy, Paddy Bradley and Kevin McGuckin — from his squad has certainly not been helpful.

Kieran McGeeney too will be hoping that his Kildare side will come up trumps against Antrim in the first round Qualifier replay on Saturday night.

The sides finished all-square in Newbridge on Saturday last and the Saffrons will now have home advantage at Casement Park.

The funeral of Roscommon great Dermot Earley earlier in the day made last Saturday’s game a poignant occasion but the Lily Whites will require focus if they hope to book a tie with Leitrim.

And this takes us to another boss from this province who may decide to call time on his job. Mickey Moran has been in charge of Leitrim along with John Morrison for over two years and it could well be that if and when the team exits the current Championship they will review their positions.

Certainly the recent tragic death of popular player Philly McGuinness and the unavailability of key players like Emlyn Mulligan through injury has not helped Leitrim’s cause of late although they showed courage and resolve before going under to Roscommon in the Connacht semi-final.

Carlow boss Luke Dempsey is understood to be pondering his future and you can be sure that Dublin manager Pat Gilroy will incur the wrath of tens of thousands of followers should his team fail to deal effectively with Tipperary on Saturday week.

Gilroy has been living dangerously and now that his side have exited the Leinster Championship following that drubbing by Meath his position has become much more uncomfortable.

And he will be fully aware, too, that Tipperary have now been re-energised following their surprise win over Laois.

No manager is sacrosanct. With 10 minutes left in the Galway v Sligo game last Saturday in Salthill, I am sure that many Galway supporters were baying for my blood.

In the event, we survived — but only just.

Now we must re-live the pressure all over again at Markievicz Park, Sligo on Saturday night and I can only hope that this time round the gods will smile even more benignly on us.

I certainly do not want to be included in that double-digit casualty litany that I have predicted!

Belfast Telegraph