Hurling managers ready for action as clubs look forward
Managing a club is a high profile but also tough job - don't let anyone tell you it's glamorous.
Wexford clubs for 2017 have succeeded in attracting a number of prominent personnel to take charge of their Senior hurling sides.
And this should add to the attractiveness of the county championship, particularly with Davy Fitzgerald at the helm of the Senior hurling team.
Perhaps people feel now is the time for the G.A.A. to wage war on the under the table payments being offered to some managers, even by clubs who are struggling financially.
No one doubts that it is happening at Senior club level, but it's now filtering through to sides in the lower grades too. The demands are high on managers but the payments more than offset the pressure which it brings. Wexford clubs have for some time been attracting high profile managers, and there is no suggestion that they are operating outside the strict guidelines on payments.
2017 sees a huge influx of outside personnel. Perhaps it's the attraction of Davy, or maybe some of the club coffers have been replenished over the winter months.
Whatever the reason, it's something for the new Wexford officer board to chew on. They need to lead the way in ensuring every club adheres to the regulations laid down by Croke Park, and some of them should be quite familiar with the situation, having worked on committees at provincial and national levels.
Clubs will not face closure, but given the demands, the finances of many no doubt are stretched to meet this additional outlay, even if they have remained within the regulations laid down by the Croke Park authorities.
With the officer board merry go round now out of the way, it's time for the movement of managers to take centre stage, with Wexford very much at the forefront as all Senior hurling clubs now have their personnel in place for 2017.
Reigning champions, Oulart-The Ballagh, were last in. Following a meeting of the squad on Sunday evening it has now emerged that player power has won out with Frank Flannery, following much soul-searching, agreeing to remain at the helm for 2017 along with his familiar backroom team.
There is one exception as Kevin Kennedy's place has been taken by Shane O'Brien, known for his involvement with Dublin camogie.
Glynn-Barntown have succeeded in attracting Jerry Wallace all the way from Cork. Wallace, who had expressed an interest in the Wexford job, brought Midleton to the Cork semi-final last year and is regarded as a quality coach, having been part of Donal O'Grady's All-Ireland winning set-up with the Leesiders.
Although he has taken over at the helm in Offaly, Kevin Ryan from Waterford remains with Rathnure, while Tom Mullally of Glenmore, who is working with Wexford under-age teams, is now also with Shelmaliers after playing such a big role in their championship success of 2014. Naomh Eanna, hoping to continue their progress, have opted for Willie Cleary, who was a member of Liam Dunne's backroom team, while Bro. Philip Ryan comes in as Buffers Alley coach alongside Aidan O'Connor as manager.
Having just avoided relegation last year through the play-offs, Faythe Harriers have opted for the return of Iggy Clarke as manager, having previously held the post in 2015, with Waterford native and Mount Sion clubman, Jimmy Meaney, as coach. Meaney is well known for his work with Waterford under-age teams.
Local talent hasn't been neglected in other clubs either, with Tomás Codd once again at the helm for St. Martin's, and M.J. Reck backed by Oylegate-Glenbrien having brought the club back to Senior status. Loyal clubman Paudge Walsh will be looking to return Rapparees-Starlights as a force, while Michael Laffan of Glynn-Barntown will have a second term in charge of Ferns St. Aidan's.
Last year's beaten finalists, Cloughbawn, have unsurprisingly given a confidence to Seán Flood and P.J. Dempsey.
Meanwhile, as we move into the second half of January, clubs are becoming increasingly concerned at the lack of an officer board to steer the affairs of Coiste na nOg in the county. There's still no news on replacements after the resignations of Bobby Goff (Chairman), Angela McCormack (Secretary) and Noel O'Keeffe (Treasurer) last December, along with the move of P.J. Howlin to adult P.R.O.