Castlehaven man is a leading candidate to succeed departing Ephie Fitzgerald
JOHN Cleary hasn’t ruled himself out of the running for the vacant Cork ladies’ senior football manager’s job.
The Castlehaven man is regarded as one of the front-runners for the role in the wake of Ephie Fitzgerald’s decision to step down after four years in charge. Fitzgerald broke the news after Cork’s recent 2-11 to 0-11 All-Ireland semi-final loss to Dublin in Croke Park, citing the huge commitment involved as one of the reasons behind his decision.
Cleary, who has led the Cork minor ladies to four of the last five All-Ireland titles, knows better than most the commitment needed at inter-county level, and that could be one of the deciding factors if he was approached.
‘Regards the senior job, we’ll just wait and see. I truly don’t know and, secondly, I know from those involved it’s a huge job,’ Cleary told The Southern Star.
‘Whether a person is willing or has the time is the big question. You must take so many other things into consideration such as family and job, and you must have the hunger, too. Things will fall into place over the coming weeks but I truly haven’t thought about it.’
He added: ‘There’s no answer to give yet with the Cork team. I only heard about Ephie (on Sunday night) and haven’t met the minor selectors yet, so everything is up in the air, genuinely. It’s early days yet.’
Cleary intends to meet up with his Cork minor management team in the next week or so to chat about their intentions for 2020 and decide what’s next. In his current roles as county minor ladies’ manager and Éire Óg senior manager, Cleary has his finger on the pulse of ladies’ football in Cork and would be an ideal choice to succeed Ephie Fitzgerald.
Now living in Ovens, the Castlehaven native had a successful spell in the men’s game as Cork U21 football manager. He was twice in the running to take over as Cork senior football manager, after Conor Counihan and Brian Cuthbert’s spells, but he never took the top job, citing work commitments as the main reason he pulled out of the race in 2015 to succeed Cuthbert.
Cork forward Eimear Scally, who plays under Cleary with Éire Óg, revealed that Fitzgerald’s decision caught them by surprise after the loss to Dublin on Sunday.
‘We were all fairly shook when he told us, saying that he was there for four years and a new voice was needed. There was no inkling of it, no word out,’ Scally said.
‘He said he didn’t want to take anything from the team by announcing it beforehand but who can blame him for the decision to go? ‘
There are lots of girls very thankful to him for the fantastic work he has put in with them over the past four years. It was like a full-time job for him as we sometimes put in five sessions a week.’
All-Ireland winning Mourneabbey manager Shane Ronayne will be another top candidate linked to the job given his success with the reigning Cork and Munster champions. Ronayne is also the Tipperary ladies’ senior manager.