Quitting at the top
Published 08/10/2010 | 05:00
The men who got out at the top -- managers who stepped down from teams who were All-Ireland champions:
O'Grady has a propensity to keep his time with a county or club short, as his one-year appointment with Limerick recently illustrated. O'Grady had come into the position in late 2002 after the first Cork players' strike had ended and was only at the end of his second year, with the Liam MacCarthy nestled back on Leeside, when he decided to lift his anchor.
Like O'Grady, Griffin was only two years into the job but he stepped down for personal reasons. The timing was impeccable, with Wexford's first All-Ireland title for 28 years delivered. In the 14 years since, they haven't added to that. Griffin never returned to inter-county management.
O'Connor is back embedded as Kerry boss for the next three years, having served for the last two. But four years ago he brought his first spell as Kingdom supremo to an abrupt end just weeks after a second All-Ireland title in three years. Kerry still won the next All-Ireland title under Pat O'Shea but when O'Shea departed after the 2008 All-Ireland final defeat to Tyrone, O'Connor's hunger had been restored and he returned.
Dublin fell across the line against Tyrone in the 1995 All-Ireland final, having spent five exhaustive years in pursuit of glory. O'Neill came on board with Paddy Cullen in 1991, took over in his own right as head of a management team in 1993 and may have seen the writing on the wall in the weeks after the final. He stayed for the first league game that October before hitting the eject button.
Dublin were All-Ireland champions in 1976 but Heffernan was not manager in 1977, a point that is very often forgotten in the telling of a storied rivalry. Instead Tony Hanahoe took up the reins as player-manager that season. Heffernan did of course return for 1978 and was manager of the Dubs until 1985.