herald

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Kernan, O'Connor for Dubs?

Dubs fans celebrate a win over Meath at Croke Park last year.

THE Dublin county board will consider taking the historic step of looking beyond the Pale in its quest to find the best manager to succeed Paul Caffrey.

Caffrey stepped down on Saturday evening in the immediate aftermath of Dublin's disastrous 12-point defeat to Tyrone at a rain-lashed Croke Park.

This prompted immediate speculation about his likely successor, with Mick Deegan touted as an early front-runner. His management team, including former Sky Blue colleagues Mick Galvin and Jack Sheedy, led Dublin to All-Ireland junior success earlier this summer. But in an intriguing move, the county board hierarchy says it won't rule out appointing an 'outside' boss - even though Dublin have never gone down this route before.

Asked about the policy on non-native managers, Dublin chairman Gerry Harrington told the Evening Herald: "I have an open mind at this moment in time. Whatever the sub-committee decide we will go with. Then, the county committee will decide. But definitely we would keep an open mind on any future candidates."

This will fuel talk about the availability or otherwise of Kerryman Jack O'Connor and Armagh's Joe Kernan, who have won three of the last six All-Ireland titles but are currently not involved at inter-county level. Another intriguing possibility could be Tomás O Flatharta: although currently attached to Westmeath, the Dublin-based Kerryman is highly regarded by the Parnell Park power brokers.

Media pundit Martin McHugh has already called on Dublin GAA chiefs to "move heaven and earth" to get O'Connor.

While Kernan would face a relatively short hop from Crossmaglen, geography is an obvious impediment for the south Kerry-based O'Connor.

Another stumbling block would be the attitude of Dublin club delegates, given the county's long-cherished tradition for appointing from within. It's true that Tom Carr was born in Tipp and Tommy Lyons in Mayo, but both former bosses grew up in the capital.

If Dublin stay local, Deegan would be an obvious candidate and has confirmed that he'd be "very tempted". Other possibilities include GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell and Brian Mullins (who was offered the job before Caffrey), while it remains unclear whether outgoing selectors Brian Talty and Paul Clarke may be interested in some continued role.

Harrington expressed gratitude to Caffrey, his selectors, backroom team and players for the "huge amount of effort" expended in leading Dublin to four Leinster titles over the past four summers.

The vacancy is set to be discussed at the board's scheduled management meeting next Monday, with the likelihood that a recommendation will come before a meeting of the full board on October 6.

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