Manager (Gaelic games)

In Gaelic games, a manager or coach (Irish: Bainisteoir) is an individual involved in the direction and instruction of the on-field operations of a team. Managing, or coaching, entails the application of sport tactics and strategies during the game itself, and usually entails substitution of players and other such actions as needed. Most managers are former players themselves, and are assisted by a group of selectors.


The term manager or coach emerged outright in the 1970s as a direct influence of the BBC programme Match of the Day. A huge proportion of the east coast of Ireland, particularly Dublin, was able to watch this programme. Unwittingly the programme played a huge role in changing the management structure of Gaelic Athletic Association teams as the Dublin football revival of the 1970s evolved.

Throughout the history of the GAA teams were usually run by selection panels. These groups generally had five members, however, on some occasions there could be up to ten selectors. These large selection panels often resulted in self-interest overtaking sound judgement. On many occasions certain selectors could be accused of favouring players from their own clubs. By the early 1970s the GAA began to take note of the merits of having an all-powerful soccer-style manager accompanied by assistants. In 1973 Dublin appointed Kevin Heffernan as manager of their football team. It was the first time in the GAA’s history that a manager with substantial powers was appointed.

Other counties soon followed suit by having a strong manager supported by a small selection panel. The term 'manager' is commonly used these days when referring to Gaelic football and hurling.

The GAA has expressed its intention to crack down on managers who are receiving illegal payments, with GAA President Christy Cooney having called the situation "a cancer running through our organisation."[1]

In 2013, GAA President Liam O'Neill described managers in Gaelic games as a "cult".[2]

Notable managers


Name Team(s) All-Ireland SHC titles
Brian CodyKilkenny2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015
Cyril FarrellGalway1980, 1987, 1988
Dermot HealyOffaly1981, 1985
Pat HendersonKilkenny1979, 1982, 1983
Michael 'Babs' KeatingGalway, Tipperary,
Laois, Offaly
1989, 1991
Ger LoughnaneClare, Galway1995, 1997
Tommy MaherKilkenny1957, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975
Bertie TroyCork1976, 1977, 1978
Ollie WalshKilkenny1992, 1993


Name Team(s) All-Ireland SFC titles
Dan O Rourke Roscommon1943,1944
Seán BoylanMeath1987, 1988, 1996, 1999
Éamonn ColemanDerry1993
Fr. Tom GilhoolyOffaly1971, 1972
Tony HanahoeDublin1977
Mickey HarteTyrone2003, 2005, 2008
Kevin HeffernanDublin1974, 1976, 1983
Joe KernanArmagh2002
Brian McEniffDonegal1992
Eugene McGeeOffaly1982
Pete McGrathDown1991, 1994
Jim McGuinness Donegal 2012
Billy MorganCork1989, 1990
Jack O'ConnorKerry2004, 2006, 2009
Mick O'DwyerKerry, Kildare
Laois, Wicklow
1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986 (All with Kerry)
John O'MahonyGalway, Leitrim
1998, 2001 (All with Galway)
Páidí Ó SéKerry, Westmeath
1997, 2000


  1. "'Vast majority' of counties support crackdown on illegal manager payments: The GAA looks set to press ahead with stricter enforcement of its rules forbidding payment to managers". The Score. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  2. Keys, Colm (12 February 2013). "O'Neill: 'Cult' of manager has become big turn-off". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 12 February 2013.

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