Former Galway hurling manager John McIntyre believes that family considerations were the driving force behind Micheál Donoghue's surprise decision to step down.

On Tuesday night senior hurling mananger Donoghue informed the Galway county board of his decision to call it a day, after four years in charge of the county.

Donoghue led the Tribesmen to their first All-Ireland title in 30 years in 2017 and leaves the role with an All-Ireland crown, two Leinster titles and a league winner's medal in four seasons in charge.

Galway lost out to Limerick in last year’s final and endured a disappointing campaign this time out but Donoghue’s decision to go, still came as a surprise to many.

Speaking on 2fm’s Game On, former manager McIntyre admitted that he was among those who were caught out by the news, but added that there had been signs that such a decision could be imminent.

"I would say that the vast reaction in Galway today is shock, a degree of disappointment and some bafflement," he said.

"But there were straws in the wind I suppose over the past week that there was the possibility of Micheál Donoghue not seeing out the next two years of his contract.

"That manifested itself last night at a meeting with county board officials, he subsequently informed the players of his decision.

"My overall reading of it, regardless of the background to it, is that this is a blow to Galway hurling.

"People in the county would have received Micheál Donoghue as a winner. He did something that Galway hadn’t done in three decades under a succession of managers and that All-Ireland win two years was Galway’s first in over 30 years."

McIntyre believes that the pressure of inter-county management and the work load involved was a big factor behind Donoghue’s exit and that he may have chosen to put his family first.

"Leaving all that the speculation aside, I think the bottom line why Micheál Donoghue is gone, is for family reasons," he said.

"He has invested a lot of his life over the past decade in hurling. I think he’s been on the sidelines for ten of the last 12 years.

"Ultimately the family considerations, I think, were paramount.

"2019 didn’t work out for Galway, last year he took them back to the All-Ireland final. There was a little bit of a fall-off in their overall performance last year but he still got them to the final and I think Micheál has only lost three or four championship games during his years of Galway, which is a phenomenal record."

While the news comes as a blow to Galway hurling, the county board at least have the benefit of time as they begin the search for a new manager, but McIntyre admits that there are few obvious candidates for the job.

"I think overall Galway supporters will be disappointed by this news. What complicates it is that there is really no obvious successor to him.

"Names will be mentioned here and there but I think that will be a challenging time for Galway over the next couple of months to see who will fill Micheál’s boots, because they will take some filling."