Grassroots hurling folk in Westmeath are firmly of the view that the county hurling manager Brian Hanley should be replaced.
At a meeting of hurling clubs held in Cusack Park last night (Wednesday), the vast majority of delegates voiced their grave concerns for the state of hurling in Westmeath at the present time, stressing that the manager had lost the support, not alone of his dressing room, but of the majority of the hurling family in the county.
Current county panellist John Shaw, who is recovering from injury, addressed delegates and told them bluntly that the manager does not have the backing of his squad. Stating that hurling in the county is at a crisis, the Raharney stalwart said that Hanley does not have the support of hurling people in the county.
Stand-in chairman Billy Foley refused to accept any proposals in relation to Brian Hanley’s future, stressing that he would accurately reflect the mood of the meeting to the county board meeting held in the immediate aftermath of the hurling get-together.
The notion that players and clubs in the county have backed Brian Hanley in recent days was brought into question by a number of delegates with accusations that players had been bullied at a meeting held last Saturday. Castlepollard delegate Pat Murtagh said he had it on good authority that the players had been “confronted” by four adults in what he described as “an undignified meeting”.
Mr Murtagh also claimed that previous representations made to the county board with regard to Brian Hanley had simply been brushed aside and he expressed concern that the feelings of delegates at last night’s meeting would not be accurately conveyed to the full meeting.
Aidan Davitt told the meeting that relegation would be a disaster for hurling in Westmeath at a time when up to €200,000 had been pledged to promote the game. He suggested that the powers-that-be would revisit that proposal if Westmeath was to slip into hurling’s lowest tier.
Mr Davitt said a number of senior players in the county had indicated to him their willingness to don the Westmeath jersey again if Brian Hanley was replaced. But he was not in favour of changing the manager at this time and he remarked that “if he can beat Kerry more luck to him”.
Nollaig McEntaggart, St Brigid’s, said players should pull on the jersey “for Westmeath and not for the manager”. He said Brian Hanley has a professional approach to the job, suggesting this might be a difficulty for some players. He said that if players pulled on the jersey with the proper attitude and were willing to suffer the torture and the pain, success would follow.