Clubs ready for the throw-in
By Shane Brophy
GAA action resumes in earnest next weekend for the first time in almost eight months with the start of the 2021 County Hurling Leagues.
With players having been back in training for the past month or so, from last Monday they can now play competitive games and challenge matches and you can be sure there will be a lot of eager players looking forward to getting back playing after such a prolonged period of time without any action.
This years constrained season will see the County Leagues played in June and July during the inter-county season without inter-county players, before the club championships get underway in August, the last weekend of the month if Tipperary reach an All-Ireland final, or a week or two earlier if they don’t.
Ahead of the new campaign, it is worth a look to see who is at the helm in each senior and intermediate hurling club in the North division.
Not surprisingly, county senior champions Kiladangan are going with the same again with Brian Lawlor remaining as manager with selectors James Flannery and Martin Nolan, and current Clare senior trainer Sean Treacy. Their senior ‘B’ team will once again be managed by Brian Kelly, Michael Quigley, and Eoin Butler.
Nenagh Eire Og will be once again among the challengers for the county title, and they have brought in the experienced Brian Horgan as manager. The Boherlahan native has put together a management team of former Tipperary footballers Kevin Mulryan and Timmy Dalton, who both reside in Nenagh, as well as former club players Donie O’Brien and Robbie Tomlinson, while Keith Hennessy is strength and conditioning coach.
2019 county champions Borris-Ileigh will again have Johnny Kelly at the helm but there has been a change to the selectors with Philip Kenny and Martin Maher having stepped away with former defender Martin Treacy linking up.
Kilruane MacDonaghs have a new management team headed up by Liam O’Kelly, with Brian ‘Buggy’ O’Meara as coaching with Dan Finnerty as team trainer.
Roscrea also have new management with none other than former player John Carroll at the helm in 2021 and they look to continue on an upward curve. His selectors are John Sheedy (Portroe) along with Marc O’Meara, Dan Gilmartin and Ray Moloney who is also the strength and conditioning coach.
Toomevara are going with the same again with Eoin Brislane remaining as manager for a second year, joined by selectors Kevin Cummins, Dermot Gleeson, Paul Treacy and Aidan Cahill. However, they have secured the services of former Tipperary and current Galway strength & conditioning coach Lukasz Kirszenstein.
Elsewhere around the county, Clonoulty/Rossmore again have Paddy Bourke as manager and Dave Keane as coach, while their rivals Eire Og Annacarty again remain in house with Liam O’Dwyer taking over as manager with assistance from Conor O’Brien, Eoin Bradshaw and Diarmuid Ryan.
In Mid Tipp, Thurles Sarsfields have gone outside the county for a new coach in Mark Dowling from Dicksboro in Kilkenny. He’ll be aided by former players like Brendan Carroll and Eamon Walsh. The trio will also manage the clubs O Riain Cup senior team.
Frankie McGrath will again be at the helm of Loughmore/Castleiney who will look to go a step further and win the county title in 2021.
James Woodlock made his managerial bow last year as Drom & Inch and despite taking on the job of Tipperary minor manager, he will remain at the helm of his home club, along with Damien Young, but has added Kevin Butler and John Kennedy as coaches.
J.K. Bracken’s go with the same again with club great Eamon Corcoran as manager, whole in Holycross, John Ferncombe takes over this year, accompanied by Ballinahinch’s Shane McGrath as coach. In Moycarkey/Borris, Dermot Maher, stays on board for 2021 but has added former Tipperary captain and Toomevara’s Willie Ryan, as coach. Upperchurch/Drombane have gone for change this year in the form of Liam Dunphy (Roscrea) and James McGrath (Toomevara) with this pair having plenty of experience with other teams so it will be interesting to see if they can add some extra zest to the ‘Church effort in 2021.
Mullinahone are the lone South representative in the Dan Breen Cup after being promoted as O Riain Cup champions and they have opted for a fresh approach with Sean O’Meara stepping down but is replaced by the capable Sean O’Regan.
Seamus O Riain Cup
Coming back to the North, last years defeated O Riain Cup finalists Lorrha, unsurprisingly, have gone for the same again after their great run to the decider with John McIntyre as manager, joined by selectors Eamonn Maher, Martin Young and James O’Meara.
Lorrha were defeated by Mullinahone in that final, after the South side had accounted for Newport in the semi-final. And after a fine campaign, Newport are unchanged with Tom Moylan as manager and former Limerick goalkeeper Joe Quaid as coach, along with selectors Dave Hickey, Mike Coffey and Phelim Ryan.
Burgess drop into the O Riain Cup after relegation from the Dan Breen and they are going with a fresh approach with Sean Flynn as manager with former goalkeeper Niall McGrath as coach with Darren Harrington as strength & conditioning coach.
Templederry were O Riain Cup quarter finalists last year and Ballinahinch’s Cormac McGrath remains in charge along with selectors Damien Bourke and Alan Ryan, with Mark Gleeson as fitness trainer. Silvermines also reached the last eight and have a new manager in Holycross’ Michael Ferncombe with Conor Doyle assisting him.
In Ballina, Brendan McKeogh remains at the helm but has added the experience Vincent McKenna from Borrisokane as coach, with Eamonn Power and Pat Cosgrove as selectors and Paddy Quinlan as S&C coach. Portroe will be managed a new resident to the parish, Greg Baker, brother of former Clare great Ollie, while Toomevara’s Bob Duff remains as strength & conditioning coach.
Outside the division, in the West, Cashel King Cormacs have Templemore-based Gardai, Dave Givens and Brian Foley, a Limerick man and a Nenagh man, in charge, while Sean Treacy’s management is headed by Niall Butler and Thurles man John Connors as coach.
In the South, Kenneth Browne and Raymie Ryan remain in charge of last years semi-finalists Killenaule, while St Mary’s embark on the new season with Brendan Cagney as manager and Barry Shortall from New Inn, as trainer. Carrick Swans have former Tipperary minor selector Tony Shelly in charge.
In the Mid, last years intermediate champions Gortnahoe/Glengoole unsurprisingly go with the same again with the management team of Keith Corbett, Ronan & Lenny Stanley, while Clonakenny do the same with Tony Doran from Camross moving up from coach to manager after Ger Byrne stepped down.