In Gaelic games, a manager or coach (Irish: Bainisteoir) is an individual involved in the direction and instruction of the on-field operations of a team. Managing, or coaching, entails the application of sport tactics and strategies during the game itself, and usually entails substitution of players and other such actions as needed. Most managers are former players themselves, and are assisted by a group of selectors.
The term manager or coach emerged outright in the 1970s as a direct influence of the BBC programme Match of the Day. A huge proportion of the east coast of Ireland, particularly Dublin, was able to watch this programme. Unwittingly the programme played a huge role in changing the management structure of Gaelic Athletic Association teams as the Dublin football revival of the 1970s evolved.
Throughout the history of the GAA teams were usually run by selection panels. These groups generally had five members, however, on some occasions there could be up to ten selectors. These large selection panels often resulted in self-interest overtaking sound judgement. On many occasions certain selectors could be accused of favouring players from their own clubs. By the early 1970s the GAA began to take note of the merits of having an all-powerful soccer-style manager accompanied by assistants. In 1973 Dublin appointed Kevin Heffernan as manager of their football team. It was the first time in the GAA’s history that a manager with substantial powers was appointed.
Other counties soon followed suit by having a strong manager supported by a small selection panel. The term 'manager' is commonly used these days when referring to Gaelic football and hurling.
The GAA has expressed its intention to crack down on managers who are receiving illegal payments, with GAA President Christy Cooney having called the situation "a cancer running through our organisation."
In 2013, GAA President Liam O'Neill described managers in Gaelic games as a "cult".