Saturday 10 December 2016

'He was able to laugh with players but you knew he was the boss'

Published 15/08/2016 | 02:30

Liam Tuohy at the launch of a display in his honour at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown in 2010. Photo: Alan Place / Sportsfile
Liam Tuohy at the launch of a display in his honour at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown in 2010. Photo: Alan Place / Sportsfile

Liam Tuohy - the quintessential football man. Quick with a quip and just as fast on his feet as a flying winger with Shamrock Rovers during the halcyon days of the '60s, the 'Rasher' was universally accorded respect by players and supporters of the League of Ireland.

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Born on April 27, 1933, he hailed from East Wall in Dublin, and played his early soccer with the local St Mary's club.

It was to them he would return in March 1954, in disgust at being ousted as left-winger for Rovers' reserves, despite being their leading scorer at the time.

As colleague Sean Ryan recounted in 'The Official Book of the FAI Cup': "It looked like Tuohy's career was over before it had even started, so, the following day being Sunday, he reverted to junior football with his East Wall pals."

But while Liam was out playing with St Mary's on the Sunday morning, Rovers director Joe Cunningham was calling to his house to tell him he was needed for the first team that afternoon to play against St Pat's.

Happily, Liam got to Milltown in time for the match, which ended in a 0-0 draw, and kept his place for the mid-week Cup replay away to Sligo Rovers.

He and Paddy Ambrose scored the goals that won the game for the Hoops, and from that day on, Liam became a regular in the first team.

The following season, 1954-55, Liam scored in every round of the FAI Cup, including the only goal of the game in the final against Drumcondra - winning the first of his four Cup medals, the last of them in 1965 as player-manager. He also won three League medals.

Liam played over 700 matches for the Hoops, and also spent three seasons with Newcastle United, scoring nine goals in 38 appearances.

Capped eight times for the Republic, he scored four international goals, and the Dubliner also played 25 times in inter-league games.

He was manager of the senior team from 1971-73, and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for a more professional approach to the Irish set-up.

His success as Irish Youth manager in the early '80s brought the boys in green qualification for three European championships and to a World Cup semi-final.

Former Rovers legend Mick Leech believes Liam Tuohy made a unique contribution to Irish soccer.

"He did it all," he says. "There are players who are great players, and managers who are great managers, but Liam was a successful player and a successful manager.

"He was never one for the hairdryer treatment - he didn't work that way. He was able to be friends with the players and have a laugh, but you knew he was the boss.

"Tactically, he wasn't naive, but he believed that football is basically a simple game, so he didn't complicate it for his teams. I really enjoyed playing for him."

Brian Kerr, who, with the late Noel O'Reilly, was assistant coach to Liam in the Irish Youths team, paid tribute on Today FM's Premier League Live show at the weekend.

"He was a great guy and it's a sad day. I remember him with great fondness, and with thanks that we had time with him and learned so much from him," said Kerr.

Condolences are offered to Liam's family. Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Irish Independent

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