Alan Kerins: 'He has a great culture and spirit built'
By Cian O’Connell
Alan Kerins knows the All Ireland drill by now. Hope and expectation. Delight or devastation. The furious scramble for tickets. Hype. Drama. Kerins has seen it all, but he feels there is something different about Galway in 2017.
Since finishing with a flourish in the Allianz Hurling League Quarter-Final against Waterford, Galway have gathered belief and momentum. A 10-match League and Championship sequence has been stitched together so Galway enter this decider loaded with optimism.
“I think if Galway perform we have one of the best chances we have in a long time,” Kerins admits. “Obviously going on form in the League and the Championship they are a really slick outfit. They are physically one of the biggest hurling teams ever.
“They are all athletic, they all can move. The whole set-up is very unified, the management and everything, they look really good. I would be quietly confident that they can do it and they might have too much for Waterford.”
A Clarinbridge clubmate of Mícheál Donoghue’s, Kerins is aware of the considerable qualities the Galway manager possesses. Donoghue guided Clarinbridge to AIB All Ireland SHC club glory in 2011, and it was a clear sign of his coaching and tactical acumen.
“He is a players' man, everyone knows exactly where they stand,” Kerins says. “Communication would be clear, he is a great man manager.
“He knows when to put the arm around the shoulder and when to give a kick up the ass when it is needed and who needs it and the timing of it. He is always meeting other managers, he is always willing to learn, he has a great backroom team around him.
“Mícheál has always had a great backroom team with Frannie (Forde), Noel (Larkin), Damien Joyce, and David Morris. Even when he was with us he had Noel Burke and he had a great backroom team.
“There are no egos there, they are real Galway men who want to win. It is not about them at all, it is about the collective rather than any one individual, they don't want any limelight.”
Always ready, willing, and able to learn, Donoghue is keen to embrace modern methods according to Kerins. “Of course, he is still very young Micheál, he is a young manager,” Kerins remarks.
“He is always meeting other managers from other codes like Pat Lam and Eric Elwood, he went to Tipperary to serve his time there under Eamonn O'Shea.
“He learned a lot there because Eamonn is one of the best coaches around. He will always be meeting the best of the best, he always wants to do things better. He wants to build team spirit and culture. As you can see he has a great culture and spirit built.
“Everyone, for the first time ever is on the same hymn sheet, are all really focused on delivering the end result, they are focused on performance and not any other side shows.”
Away from the sporting fields Alan Kerins in partnership with Self Help Africa, boosted by Ronan Scully’s sterling work in Ireland, continues to embark on crucial projects. “It is going very well, we have two massive projects ongoing in Mongu at the moment,” Kerins says.
“We are building a lodge and a business park. In 18 months we are going to have those completed. That will allows us to get 1200 kids operated on, it will be really good.”
Kerins is delighted by how it has worked since this new venture commenced in 2015. “It has been really good the merger. The brand has got Alan Kerins partnered with Gorta Self Help Africa. They have brilliant to us, they have the back office support which has helped us to access international funding as well.
“That was key and having the local Zambians on the ground to run and manage our programmes was key if we wanted to expand. That was a great move, they are a great organisation, and Ronan is a legend. It has been a hugely positive move.
“They have also given us people with expertise. We had a farm with one of the nuns in an orphanage, we had 200 hectares, they have really come in to develop that farm from an infrastructural point of view, but also regards training the local farmers to farm far better or in a more productive way.
"It has also helped the farmers to market better so they get some money from their yield as well. It has been hugely positive.”
Empowering the local Zambian people with knowledge is key according to Kerins. “Everything is now geared to train the locals to do everything themselves,” Kerins reveals.
“We don't bring anyone over to do anything unless they can add value or train them. People do come over from companies and on leadership programmes. We bring them on leadership executive programmes and they are really useful.”