New eras in Westmeath inter-county football and hurling began last night (Thursday), as Westmeath GAA County Board delegates ratified Jack Cooney and Joe Quaid for the respective roles.
And what will be seen as a huge fillip for the hurling fraternity, it was confirmed that Raharney’s Johnny Greville is to join Quaid as a selector and manager of the county’s U20 hurlers.
Coralstown/Kinnegad clubman Cooney becomes the first homegrown Westmeath manager in 26 years, replacing Colin Kelly, who stepped down during the summer.
A veteran of many years’ service in the maroon jersey, Cooney cut his teeth on the inter-county scene as a selector under Luke Dempsey. He was also a selector under Páidí Ó Sé during Westmeath’s historic first Leinster SFC win in 2004. His appointment re-establishes the link with that golden summer.
Since then, Cooney has coached at various clubs – including his native Coralstown/Kinnegad – and for a time, was also involved with the Donegal senior football set-up.
Des Maguire (Mullingar Shamrocks), a member of the committee appointed to seek out a new manager – which included legendary Westmeath forward Dessie Dolan – said that seven candidates were interested in the football job.
“After a long, drawn out process, after the second round of interviews, we settled on Jack Cooney,” said Mr Maguire, with county board chairman Billy Foley adding that the committee was “impressed immensely” by the new manager’s “passionate proposal”.
“It’s a breath of fresh air, and the start of a new era,” said Mr Foley.
Coming on board with Cooney as a selector is former Offaly footballer Pascal Kellaghan, who was in the reverse role with Cooney as Rhode claimed back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.
Also joining the team are Garrycastle’s Cathal Mullin (goalkeeping coach) – who was between the sticks for Westmeath during that famous run through the All-Ireland Qualifiers in 2001 – and Mullingar’s Joe Nangle as strength and conditioning coach.
Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that Damien Gavin will remain as U20 football manager for 2018, along with his management team of David Martin, Peter Tormey and Marius Gavin.
With the football dealt with, Matty Conaty, a member of the hurling selection committee, officially proposed Limerick’s Joe Quaid as the new Westmeath senior hurling manager.
Former Treaty County goalkeeper Quaid, a popular appointment, steered Kildare’s hurlers to this year's Christy Ring Cup crown.
Mr Conaty said that there were five “excellent candidates” for the role, one of whom was the current Westmeath senior camogie manager Johnny Greville. He also confirmed that former Raharney player and manager Greville would be joining Quaid’s setup as a selector and coach, and as manager of the U20 side. Greville will also remain in his role with Westmeath’s senior camogie side.
With Greville on Quaid’s team will be Dubliner and former Oulart the Ballagh and Dublin U21 boss Shane O’Brien, and Limerick’s Willie Banks as goalkeeping coach.