The off-season has produced a sea of change in camogie circles as a number of counties go into 2016 with new management teams in place.The highest profile departure is that of Tony Ward from Galway. Ward is the only manager to have overseen an All-Ireland senior camogie championship triumph for the westerners.
Having initially been introduced as a selector by Cyril Farrell in 1993, he took over the reins and led Galway to their maiden title in 1996. He departed two years later and apart from a one-year stint in 2000, stayed away until returning 2012.
The following year, Galway ended a devastating run of near-misses to claim a belated second crown. Ward also managed the intermediate team that completed a famous double on the same day, having also been in charge when the juniors were successful in 1994.
The Sarsfields man announced his decision to resign at the beginning of December and will be succeeded by Ollie Bergin, who played for and managed Kinvara hurlers for many years, before taking charge of the club’s camogie team in 2015.
Bergin will look to name his backroom team quickly, and has a talented squad to work with, as a young Galway team won this year’s Irish Daily Star Camogie League title and reached the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland final, where they found Cork too good on the day.
Meanwhile, Ann Downey has returned to the fold at Kilkenny, alongside Conor Phelan and Paddy Mullally. The Lisdowney legend, who won 12 All-Ireland senior medals in the black and amber, was previously in charge when a youthful Kilkenny outfit had to give best to Cork in the 2009 All-Ireland final.
Phelan (Clara) and Mullally (Glenmore) are also former All-Ireland winners with Kilkenny hurlers and they joined forces with Downey to steer WIT to Ashbourne Cup glory earlier this year. The trio replace Fintan Deegan, who was unable to accept an offer of a three-year extension after his initial maiden campaign, citing family and work commitments.
Limerick have appointed John Tuohy to take over from Joe Quaid, after the former All-Star goalkeeper moved on to Kildare’s hurlers. The Shannonsiders made giant strides under Quaid’s stewardship, garnering All-Ireland intermediate and League Division 2 titles.
Tuohy is a former manager of both Limerick and Offaly minor hurling teams, while he also has plenty of domestic experience with his own club Patrickswell, Granagh-Ballingarry and Bruree, who he managed to win the county hurling championship in 2006.
The school principal is taking his first step into camogie management, although he did coach Crecora to win a county junior title in 2014. Former Limerick hurler Declan Nash will also come on board as strength and conditioning coach.
Clare have appointed Patricia O’Grady to succeed Colm Honan as senior manager. Honan continued the progress achieved under John Carmody and brought the Bannerwomen to a first national senior final in 2014, when Kilkenny defeated them in the League final.
O’Grady was a selector under both Honan and Carmody, ensuring that there is a sense of familiarity within the camp. The former Clare goalkeeper was also part of the management team that guided her native Newmarket-on-Fergus to the county championship in 2011.
Offaly moved quickly to appoint Adrian Clancy to the figurehead role after Barry Whelehan announced that he could not continue as manager after one year, due to family and work commitments.
Clancy was a selector with St Rynagh's senior hurlers that reached the last two county finals. A long-time servant with the club as a player, Clancy won a Leinster minor hurling title with Offaly in 2000.
Elsewhere, Shane O’Brien has continued his policy of sourcing high-achievers for his backroom team at Dublin by adding David Herity to his ticket.Herity is a former Kilkenny hurling goalkeeper, who has won five All-Irelands at senior level and another pair with the U21s. He has also bagged nine Leinster medals, with two each at minor and U21 level, and the rest at senior, and for good measure, garnered two League mementoes as well.