We’re not the only ones appointing new managers this weather, though I think it’s fair to say we’re pretty much on our own in terms of the screwed-up way we went about our business in doing so. The neighbours are in appointment mode too, with Kevin Walsh last night handed the reins of the Galway senior football team for the next three years. The double All-Ireland winning midfielder was one of two nominees for the job but when the other candidate, Pete Warren, pulled out a while ago Walsh’s appointment became a foregone conclusion.
From the new man’s perspective, it’s probably not a bad time to be coming in. Galway have been in a rut for years, having last landed the Nestor Cup as far back as 2008, and while Alan Mulholland did manage to steer them as far as the All-Ireland quarter-final stage this year, the county side never enjoyed the kind of renaissance under his leadership that his repeated All-Ireland successes at under-age level promised. For Walsh, the challenge will now be to harness the talent that is always at Galway’s disposal to greater effect, starting one assumes with the aim of ending their long run of underachievement west of the Shannon.
Whether or not he’ll be able to do this is another issue. Walsh’s tenure at Sligo started off brightly following his appointment there in 2008 but while his CV boasts championship wins over us and Galway in 2010 it didn’t extend to a provincial title success that year. Another win over Galway followed for his Yeatsmen side in 2012 (an historic first championship win on Galway soil it was for them too) but another Connacht final defeat followed, this time to us. It was downhill all the way from there for the Kilanin man, his time in charge of the Magpies ending in calamitous fashion last year following a disastrous championship campaign that saw them losing to London before bowing out in the qualifiers to Derry.
Starting again with a clean slate in charge of his native county is, though, likely to re-energise him and the fact that we’re under new management as well going into next year could help Walsh’s cause. James Horan had a 100% strike rate in Connacht championship matches in his four years in charge (assuming that the 2011 extra-time victory over London can be chalked down as a win) and while the aim for our lads will obviously be to push on again in 2015, our long unbeaten run in Connacht won’t last forever. With Roscommon continuing to improve as well, next year’s provincial championship could then be one of the hardest fought campaigns in the west for years.