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Ranking The Top 5 Priest GAA Managers Of All Time

Ranking The Top 5 Priest GAA Managers Of All Time
By Balls Team
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A priest being appointed manager of an inter-county team would be quite a novelty now - at least partly because priests are a novelty now.

The sight of a priest prowling the sideline is a sight associated with the 70s and 80s, though there are still a few plugging away.

5. Fr. Kevin Fay


Long time manager of St. Pat's of Cavan, Fay is best known for his exuberant celebration after managing his college to victory in the Rannafast Cup in 2012.

In compliance with the edicts laid down by Vatican II, he is known to say ultra-quick Masses on the days Cavan have championship games.

4. Fr. Tom Fogarty

A former Tipperary inter-county player, Fogarty managed the Tipp seniors in the mid-1990s and the Offaly senior side from 2001-02. During neither spell did he enjoy any conspicuous success, though he was rather unlucky with the timing of each appointment.


He took over a Tipperary team in a time of transition (the successful late 80's-early 90's Tipperary team were breaking up) and he took over an Offaly team in a state of outright decline.

In both of his seasons in charge of Tipp, they beat Waterford only to be pipped by Limerick - after a replay in the 1996 Munster Final.

He later guided Tipperary to the U21 Munster title in 2006, and they were beaten narrowly by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final replay.


3. Fr. Harry Bohan


One of the most famous priest GAA managers of all, Bohan managed Clare to two National League titles in the 1970s. They were narrowly beaten by Cork in the Munster finals of '77 and '78 and the Cork side went on to win the All-Ireland both years. Bohan returned in the early noughties as a selector with Anthony Daly.

2. Archdeacon Michael O'Brien


O'Brien, known as 'the Canon', died in 2014 after a lengthy illness. O'Brien was famously the man who led the donkey to win the derby.

It was Babs Keating back in 1990 who made the remark that 'donkeys don't win derbies' - a truism in the case of the national hunt circuit. However, he had been asked about Cork's chances of upending his All-Ireland winning Tipperary team's chances in the Munster championship. He appeared to be saying that was about as likely as a donkey triumphing around Epsom. O'Brien reminded his donkeys of this comment at frequent intervals in the lead up to the Tipp game.

Needless to say, Cork, like Alan Partridge, had the last laugh, and O'Brien would go on to lead his donkeys to an All-Ireland title for the second time that September, beating out hot favourites Galway in a surreal goal-fest underneath the blazing sun in Croke Park.


He had already managed Cork to an All-Ireland victory in 1984 and coached UCC to no less than eight Fitzgibbon Cup successes in the 1980s. He is the last priest to guide a team to All-Ireland senior success. He managed Cork to another All-Ireland final in 1992 but they were beaten by Kilkenny.

1. Fr. Tommy Maher

Brian Cody's mentor, Maher coached the Kilkenny hurlers from the late 1950s to the late 70s - Kilkenny greatest ever era, until Cody took the reins himself.


The subject of a book by Enda McEvoy, Maher believed 'the only tactic is technique' and encouraged passing, both from the hand and the hurl.

In a era when backs used to just leather the ball forward, unperturbed by the thought that it might end up in an opposing defender's hands, Maher preached that no ball should be sent in without a recipient in mind. A kind of early prototype of Donal O' Grady.

'The Godfather of Modern Hurling' guided Kilkenny to seven All-Ireland victories in total.

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