Club call – the big hurling names in new roles around the country for the 2021 season

THERE IS STILL plenty uncertainty over when exactly GAA club action will commence around the country for the 2021 season, not least with the amount of competitions still unfinished from last year.

But while the pandemic removes clarity on that front, it is apparent that the presence of some big hurling names in different coaching and managerial roles will shine a spotlight on local matters.

Here are some of the renowned and experienced hurling figures who have taken up positions for the 2021 campaign.

1. Anthony Daly (Sarsfields – Galway)

A major addition on the Galway club scene, Daly’s most recent managerial role was with Kilmacud Crokes in the capital for 2018 and 2019. Prior to that he established himself in the inter-county arena at the helm of Clare and Dublin, guiding the latter to a couple of landmark league and Leinster finals win over the last decade.

He joins a club with a rich history, back-to-back All-Ireland winners in the ’90s, while they more recently were crowned Galway champions in 2015. Joseph Cooney is their best-known Galway senior while defender Darren Morrissey was also on the bench for December’s semi-final against Limerick.

Anthony Daly previously managed Kilmacud Crokes.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

2. Brendan Bugler (Birr – Offaly)

A two-time All-Star winner, the defender’s crowning achievement as a player was with the 2013 All-Ireland senior success with Clare. Since retirement he has moved into coaching and was a selector with Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford setup last year while also helping St Flannan’s win the Dr Harty Cup.

Birr are a hurling force with huge tradition. The club’s honours list between 1991 and 2008 read 12 Offaly, 7 Leinster and 4 All-Ireland club titles. Their last county success was 13 years ago but they have been challenging strongly, contesting the semi-final stage in 2020 while just falling shorts in the finals in 2016 and 2019.

We are delighted to announce former Clare star Brendan Bugler as our senior manager for 2021.

Dave Mannix (Head of Athletic Performance with Roscommon GAA) will work with him as strength and conditioning coach.

We wish Brendan and his team the best of luck for 2021 #biorraabú pic.twitter.com/LznTjEyI4v

— Birr GAA (@BirrCLG) December 28, 2020

Bugler was a regular in defence for Clare.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. Eddie Brennan (Cuala – Dublin)

Brennan drew plenty plaudits for his work as Laois manager, particularly in 2019 when they won the Joe McDonagh Cup and the seismic result when they knocked Dublin out in the qualifiers. He has other coaching experience at club level with Lisdowney and Killenaule while he was the Kilkenny U21 boss when they contested the 2017 All-Ireland decider.

Brennan’s ties with Laois were cut last November and he has since linked up with Cuala as their coach for the 2021 campaign. The eight-time All-Ireland winning forward as a player will be working with one of the top hurling clubs in the country. Since 2015 they have picked up five Dublin senior championships while triumphing twice in the Leinster and All-Ireland series, and can call upon a bunch of Dublin players.

Cuala senior hurlers are delighted to announce the appointment of John Twomey as team manager and Eddie Brennan as team coach. John Twomey has had a long career with the Dublin hurlers. Eddie Brennan is recognised as one of the all-time great forwards to play the game.

— Cuala GAA (@CualaCLG) December 3, 2020

Eddie Brennan after Laois played Clare last year.

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

4. Eoin Larkin (Ballinkillen – Carlow)

Larkin was another key member of Brian Cody’s all-conquering Kilkenny side, accumulating eight All-Ireland medals and two All-Stars during his playing days.

The James Stephens club man has been involved with underage sides in a coaching capacity recently and is now moving across the border to get involved with the Ballinkillen club. They last lifted the Carlow senior hurling championship in 2001, reaching the final last year where they were defeated by Mount Leinster Rangers.

Eoin Larkin in action in the 2016 All-Ireland senior hurling final.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

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5. Henry Shefflin (Thomastown – Kilkenny)

It’s twelve months since Shefflin stepped down as manager of his native Ballyhale Shamrocks. He had been at the helm for a quite superb run for the club with Shefflin in charge for a pair of Kilkenny, Leinster and All-Ireland wins between October 2018 and January 2020. It continued a career of glittering success after Shefflin’s 10 All-Ireland and 11 All-Star honours as a player.

After departing that Ballyhale role, he has taken on a new post for 2021 in the Kilkenny intermediate ranks with Thomastown, a club that lost last year’s county final in that grade on a penalty shootout. John Donnelly is their main current Kilkenny senior.

Henry Shefflin and Patrick Mullen after last year’s All-Ireland senior club hurling final.

Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

6. Ollie Baker (Belmont – Offaly)

No stranger to Offaly hurling circles, Baker has now taken charge of the Belmont senior hurlers. He was manager of the Offaly county side for the 2012 and 2013 campaigns, previously had selector roles with Clare and Antrim, while he then took Kilmacud Crokes to a Dublin senior title in 2014.

The two-time Liam MacCarthy Cup winner as a Banner player, Baker takes over a club that reached the Offaly senior semi-final last September, losing by four points to Kilcormac-Killoughey.

Ollie Baker previously managed Kilmacud Crokes.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

7. Paraic Fanning (Dicksboro – Kilkenny)

Fanning was more recently the Waterford boss for the 2019 championship while before that he had managerial roles at club level with his native Mount Sion and Kilkenny side James Stephens.

That Noreside experience will be drawn upon for his latest role with another city team in Dicksboro for the 2021 season. Dicksboro were crushed by the power of Ballyhale in last year’s Kilkenny senior final but have tasted success recently with their 2017 final while Cillian Buckley is their flagship figure.

Paraic Fanning before Waterford’s 2019 Munster championship clash with Tipperary.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

8. Ronan Curran (St Finbarr’s – Cork)

This is a familiar role for the former Cork centre-back as he takes the managerial reins again of his native club. Curran oversaw the fortunes of St Finbarr’s for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, achieving a semi-final appearance in the latter, before working with Kanturk last year, managing them to a last four appearance at senior A level in Cork.

He will be at the helm for a team that contains Cork seniors in Damien Cahalane and Billy Hennessy but the last of their 25 senior titles came back in 1993. Curran won a pair of All-Ireland senior hurling medals with Cork and three All-Stars.

Ronan Curran in action for Cork against Tipperary in 2010.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

9. Shane Dowling (St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield – Clare)

The All-Ireland winner in both Limerick and Na Piarsaigh colours, Dowling was forced into early retirement due to a knee injury last July. He takes a step into the coaching game with a Clare club who reached the intermediate semi-finals last year.

St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield were a senior powerhouse in Clare and were All-Ireland kingpins in 1999 before slipping back to the second tier a couple of years ago. Dowling enjoyed huge success with his own club Na Piarsaigh and was also chosen on the 2014 All-Star team for his exploits with Limerick.

Shane Dowling in action for Limerick against Kilkenny in 2019.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

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