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Manager (Gaelic games)

In Gaelic games, a manager or coach (Irish: Bainisteoir) is an individual involved in the direction and instruction of the on-field operations of a team. Managing, or coaching, entails the application of sport tactics and strategies during the game itself, and usually entails substitution of players and other such actions as needed. Most managers are former players themselves, and are assisted by a group of selectors.


The term manager or coach emerged outright in the 1970s as a direct influence of the BBC programme Match of the Day. A huge proportion of the east coast of Ireland, particularly Dublin, was able to watch this programme. Unwittingly the programme played a huge role in changing the management structure of Gaelic Athletic Association teams as the Dublin football revival of the 1970s evolved.[citation needed]

Throughout the history of the GAA teams were usually run by selection panels. These groups generally had five members, however, on some occasions there could be up to ten selectors. These large selection panels often resulted in self-interest overtaking sound judgement. On many occasions certain selectors could be accused of favouring players from their own clubs. By the early 1970s the GAA began to take note of the merits of having an all-powerful soccer-style manager accompanied by assistants. In 1973 Dublin appointed Kevin Heffernan as manager of their football team. It was the first time in the GAA’s history that a manager with substantial powers was appointed.[citation needed]

Other counties soon followed suit by having a strong manager supported by a small selection panel. The term 'manager' is commonly used these days when referring to Gaelic football and hurling.

The GAA has expressed its intention to crack down on managers who are receiving illegal payments, with GAA President Christy Cooney having called the situation "a cancer running through our organisation."[1]

In 2013, GAA President Liam O'Neill described managers in Gaelic games as a "cult".[2]

Notable managers


Name Team(s) All-Ireland SHC titles
Brian Cody Kilkenny 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012
Cyril Farrell Galway 1980, 1987, 1988
Dermot Healy Offaly 1981, 1985
Pat Henderson Kilkenny 1979, 1982, 1983
Michael 'Babs' Keating Galway, Tipperary,
Laois, Offaly
1989, 1991
Ger Loughnane Clare, Galway 1995, 1997
Tommy Maher Kilkenny 1957, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975
Bertie Troy Cork 1976, 1977, 1978
Ollie Walsh Kilkenny 1992, 1993


Name Team(s) All-Ireland SFC titles
Seán Boylan Meath 1987, 1988, 1996, 1999
Éamonn Coleman Derry 1993
Fr. Tom Gilhooly Offaly 1971, 1972
Tony Hanahoe Dublin 1977
Mickey Harte Tyrone 2003, 2005, 2008
Kevin Heffernan Dublin 1974, 1976, 1983
Joe Kernan Armagh 2002
Brian McEniff Donegal 1992
Eugene McGee Offaly 1982
Pete McGrath Down 1991, 1994
Jim McGuinness Donegal 2012
Billy Morgan Cork 1989, 1990
Jack O'Connor Kerry 2004, 2006, 2009
Mick O'Dwyer Kerry, Kildare
Laois, Wicklow
1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986
John O'Mahony Galway, Leitrim
1998, 2001
Páidí Ó Sé Kerry, Westmeath
1997, 2000


  1. ^ "‘Vast majority’ of counties support crackdown on illegal manager payments: The GAA looks set to press ahead with stricter enforcement of its rules forbidding payment to managers". The Score. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Keys, Colm (12 February 2013). "O'Neill: 'Cult' of manager has become big turn-off". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 12 February 2013. 

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