Monday 24 June 2019

Dublin must drive on

Anthony Cunningham best placed to take over, says former Cat Fennelly

LEGEND: Kilkenny hurler Michael Fennelly at the launch of the 2018 Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Team of the Year. Photo: Sportsfile
LEGEND: Kilkenny hurler Michael Fennelly at the launch of the 2018 Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Team of the Year. Photo: Sportsfile

It was the sheer abruptness of Pat Gilroy's decision to step down as Dublin hurling manager that gave the announcement such a shock factor when news broke on Sunday night.

Gilroy is understood to want no say or influence in identifying or appointing his successor, meaning the county board are back in precisely the same spot as they were last year, albeit the work done by Gilroy in rebuilding the squad should have at least some benefits for the next man in.

But given Gilroy had already begun planning for 2019, the Dublin county board - unlike last year - weren't anticipating being in the position of having to identify and appoint a new senior hurling manager.

"Realistically that should happen a lot more smoothly, in my eyes," observes former Kilkenny hurler Michael Fennelly.

"In terms of Gilroy giving notice to the county board and saying, "look, I'm caught with work commitments. What is the process here?"


"Do we try to bring in some else? Will we try to find someone without maybe putting it out to the public?"

"Or talk to Anthony (Cunningham), and see if he wants to take it on maybe? And do in-house, without people knowing, as such.

"So if he does go, there's an answer there straight away."

Cunningham is the bookies favourite to step into the role by simply virtue of the fact that he was part of Gilroy's management team this year.

Mattie Kenny and Anthony Daly are also strong candidates currently coaching teams in Dublin and both were at least interested in the job when Gilroy was appointed this time last year.

"I think really it depends on whether Anthony (Cunningham) wants the role, or not," Fennelly noted.

"Does he feel he needs someone else with him maybe?

"Would that help things in the camp?

"That's just looking from the outside in, to be honest. Just speculating, really, there.

"I think it should happen a lot more smoothly. For Dublin now, there's instability there.

"There's questions - do they need to bring in somebody else?

"Will it be a whole new backroom team, people are saying now?"

Fennelly noted that the team were only beginning to get some traction under Gilroy when their season ended after an unlucky but competitive Leinster SHC campaign.

They didn't beat anybody other than Antrim, Laois and Offaly this year in the League and Championship but progress on the previous season was self-evident.

Other than a couple of Cuala's over-worked brigade and some injured parties, everybody with legitimate claims on a spot in the squad was given a chance at some stage.

"No matter what happened this year, I think people are very respectful of him," Fennelly pointed out.


"He's done it before in the past. He's brought great positivity into the camp, and a great presence.

"Obviously he's a leader, and people seem to look up to him. So straight away people were buzzing to see him being involved.

"So he's definitely a loss to the set up.

"He was able to bring in good people. I think he's probably a good people person.

"He mightn't have been doing a whole lot of coaching, but he was looking at the set-up and whose doing what, and trying to get the best out of players.

"So it's a small bit of instability. But it's only a small thing, obviously.

"They still have the core... they still have their backroom team there, and they just need to drive on, I think."

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