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July 23 2017 2:30 AM
The search is under way for a successor to Ger Cunningham who has stepped down as Dublin manager after three years in charge. The news did not come as a surprise. Dublin finished a disappointing season with a comprehensive defeat to Tipperary in the qualifiers, conceding six goals. In the Leinster championship they were crushed by Galway and relegation followed their league campaign in Division 1A.
Cunningham was tasked with bringing in new players and overseeing a changing of the guard as sections of the team under his predecessor Anthony Daly had aged. He managed that with some success and blooded some talented hurlers but the loss of high-profile names, the most recent being Mark Schutte, stymied progress and added weight to claims that relations between Cunningham and his senior players weren't healthy.
The new manger will seek to bring back some of the more experienced players like Schutte and Danny Sutcliffe that Dublin sorely missed. Mattie Kenny, the former Galway senior hurling selector who managed Cuala when they won the All-Ireland club hurling title in March, is one of those believed to be in contention.
Others include Shay Boland who was involved in Cunningham's first year as a selector and is a former county minor manager. While Daly's name may be linked to the vacancy it is thought he is a remote bet, being involved with the Limerick development squads and also in media punditry.
An outside bet might be DJ Carey, who made a strong impression with Carlow IT in the Fitzgibbon Cup this year and would probably be a popular appointment among the players.
"It has been an honour and indeed a privilege to manage the team and as I leave I have nothing but admiration for the squad of players who have represented Dublin with pride and passion. I want to thank them for their commitment both on and off the field," said Cunningham in a statement released yesterday.
"I also want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of my backroom teams over the last three years for their time and dedication to Dublin hurling. Their professionalism and counsel throughout our time together has been invaluable.
"I would like to thank the wider Dublin county board, in particular Seán Shanley and John Costello, for giving me the opportunity. It's also important to acknowledge the role of the late Andy Kettle, who was chairman when I was appointed.
"There has been a lot of speculation about different aspects of Dublin hurling over the last few months. For the record, every decision that my backroom team and I made was always in the best interests of Dublin senior hurling.
"Furthermore, Dublin hurling supporters should be in no doubt that this group of players have massive desire to represent Dublin and possess huge dedication and commitment to their county. As I leave the position I would like to wish my successor the very best for the future."
Dublin county board chairman Shanley added: "Ger has given valuable inter-county experience to many of our young players over the past three years. The committee will commence the process of considering suitable candidates to replace Ger and his management team in September."
Some might hope they won't have to wait until then.