Mickey Ned steps down in Limerick
LIMERICK senior football boss Mickey Ned O'Sullivan announced last night that he will not be looking for another term in charge.
O'Sullivan, who has been charge of the Shannonsiders for five seasons, indicated that he and his management team of about 11 people have collectively decided to step down, which leaves Limerick now looking for new managers for both their senior footballers and hurlers.
Limerick lost out narrowly to Cork in last year's Munster final and suffered a two-point loss to them, after extra-time, in the final round of this year's qualifiers.
O'Sullivan said that the outgoing management felt they had brought the team as far as they could and that it was "time for fresh voices". He also said that he felt none of his management team had plans to return to management elsewhere for a couple of seasons.
There has been speculation that his right-hand man in Limerick -- fellow Kerry native Donie Buckley -- could be a likely replacement for Kerry selector Eamonn Fitzmaurice, who stepped down this week, but O'Sullivan's comments last night seemed to indicate otherwise.
Meanwhile, O'Sullivan and Wexford manager Jason Ryan have both stressed their belief that Cork will substantially raise their game for Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Dublin.
The Rebels may not yet have shown the sort of ruthless efficiency expected of All-Ireland champions elect, but two managers who have suffered at their hands this summer expect Dublin to bring out the best in them.
"Since those two games against Kerry, Cork went into every game as favourites. It wasn't even a case of 50-50, they were always heavily fancied to win, and that presents a real challenge in itself," Ryan said.
"Yet, no matter how close we got to them at any stage -- and we were happy enough up to half-time -- they would pull away again. And against Roscommon the last day, I don't think they ever looked like losing."
O'Sullivan concurred, saying: "I think they've played like they expected to win. If the players decide that they're really under pressure and play accordingly, I think there's a lot more in them."
Both men feel that the dip this weekend in Cork's overriding 'favourites' status will actually be of benefit to them. And for Ryan, there are two primary areas that Dublin will have to target.
"Their half-back line is so athletic, even if it doesn't include Graham Canty," the Waterford native said. "Every one of their half-backs is an excellent ball carrier and it's that ability to build from the back and run at you that's a huge threat. Also, their full-forward line is really dangerous if they get enough space.
"Donncha O'Connor is back to full fitness since we played them, which gives them further strength. Their full-forward line is dynamite if you allow them to play."
One man who has seen a lot of Cork's forwards at close hand, and has been surprised by the criticism they've shipped recently, is Cork Institute of Technology's GAA officer, Keith Ricken.
Ricken managed CIT to win their historic first Sigerson Cup (third-level championship) in 2009 with a team that included Ray Carey (full-back), Paul O'Flynn (midfield) and Paul Kerrigan (centre-forward), along with Daniel Goulding and Colm O'Neill in the full-forward line.
"The likes of Daniel and Colm, their scoring records with us, whether at Freshers or in the Sigerson, have been phenomenal and they always present a serious scoring threat," Ricken said.
"Obviously, at senior inter-county level, you're facing defenders of the same high calibre, but players like themselves and Paul Kerrigan are forwards of outstanding ability and I'd have great faith in them.
"There's been some criticism of Cork this summer, but people seem to forget they won the National League and the only side who beat them this summer -- very narrowly in a replay -- is Kerry.
"They're back in their sixth successive All-Ireland semi-final and to get there they had to score plenty, so I'd have no worries on that front."