Former Louth boss Colin Kelly has been ratified as Westmeath senior football manager, after he was proposed to Westmeath GAA county board delegates tonight.
Kelly’s appointment, proposed by Jimmy Moran (Bunbrosna) and seconded by Seamus McLoughlin (Moate), went through with little opposition amid revelations that clubs will have input into the composition of Kelly’s backroom team.
“He’s not bringing anyone from Louth,” county board chairman, Sean Sheridan, told delegates, adding that Kelly is to be installed for three-year term. “He wants a Westmeath team around him.”
As a player, Kelly is Louth’s all-time top scorer, and with his manager’s hat on, steered the Wee County to a Leinster U21 final in 2012, where they were defeated by Jim Gavin’s Dublin. He also led the county’s seniors to back-to-back promotions in the NFL.
Ned Flynn, Castletown-Finea/Coole/Whitehall delegate, said that while he expected there to be little opposition to Kelly’s appointment, the feeling among clubs was that a Westmeath man should have been chosen.
“Are we sure we couldn’t have got someone local?” Mr Flynn asked the top table.
In response, Mr Sheridan said that a number of prospective candidates were approached, and that the shortlist was whittled down to three interviewees.
Another voice from the floor insisted that there were a number of local names interested in the job.
“What has Colin Kelly got that the others don’t have?” the delegate asked, citing Louth’s championship failures under Kelly this year.
Mr Sheridan added that some prospective candidates from Westmeath were approached, but they declined for various reasons, including prior commitments to clubs.
Gerry Coyne, former Westmeath football board secretary and a member of the committee tasked with sourcing a manager, encouraged clubs to get behind Kelly and to take an active role in forming his backroom team.
His sentiments were echoed by Aiden McGuire (The Downs) and Des Maguire (Mullingar Shamrocks).
Kelly’s predecessor, Tom Cribbin, stepped down from the senior football role earlier in the summer, having steered the Lake County to two Leinster SFC finals.
The other names understood to have been in the running for the role, along with Kelly, were former Dublin footballers Johnny Magee and Tom Carr (the latter a former Westmeath minor football manager), and former Meath boss Mick O’Dowd.
Also at tonight’s meeting in TEG Cusack Park, former Garrycastle manager Martin McCabe and Castlepollard hurling legend Alfie Devine were confirmed as Westmeath’s minor football and hurling managers respectively.