Hanley Has Sights Set on Tackling Old Friends
Byline: JACKIE CAHILL
BRIAN HANLEY thought he was the victim of a practical joke when he was asked to take charge of the Westmeath senior hurlers in April.
The Athenry man, who won three All-Ireland club crowns and seven county titles in a glittering career, was contacted by Westmeath hurling board chairman Willie Murphy following Kevin Martin's acrimonious departure.
Former Offaly star Martin lashed the commitment of some Westmeath's hurlers before vacating the post, accusing them of 'lacking motivation and pride in representing their county.' But in a few short weeks, Hanley has transformed the fortunes of a team that lost all seven of their games in Division 2 of this year's Allianz League.
And the Lake County upset the odds at Dr Cullen Park 10 days ago by scoring a famous victory against Carlow in the Leinster championship.
The reward is a tilt at Galway in Mullingar next Saturday and it's a tie that brings Hanley in direct opposition with a host of familiar faces.
During his time as Galway Under 21 selector in 2009 and 2010, 37-year-old Hanley worked with household names like Joe Canning, James Skehill, Barry Daly and David Burke.
And as the current manager of Galway club side Liam Mellows, he sees David Collins, Aonghus Callanan and John Lee up close and personal on a regular basis.
After hanging up his boots, Hanley was straight into management with Kilconieron in Galway, guiding them to successive county intermediate hurling semi-finals, with the club unfortunate to lose out to the eventual winners on both occasions.
Liam Spellman was the contact in Kilconieron before Gordon Crowley from Liam Mellows got in touch.
Next Saturday evening, Spellman and Crowley are two of the men on statistics duty for Hanley, along with John Coll from Athenry.
Galway in the Leinster SHC quarter-final represents Hanley's biggest management test to date -- and it's one that he could never have envisaged in his wildest dreams two months ago.
He revealed: 'Willie Murphy rang me and I wasn't sure if he was serious. …