MICKEY NED O'SULLIVAN has called time on his Limerick reign after a five-year odyssey that saw the Shannonsiders go agonisingly close, on two separate occasions, to that elusive Munster title breakthrough.
O'Sullivan's trusted coaching sidekick, fellow Kerryman Donie Buckley, is also stepping down and this has already fuelled speculation that Buckley could eventually end up as part of the Kerry management team next season.
Eamon Fitzmaurice quit as a Kerry selector this week, leaving a vacancy on the backroom team in the event that Jack O'Connor decides to remain on as Kerry boss for another term.
O'Sullivan, though, reckons Limerick need a new direction after their close-run Munster final defeats to Cork last year and Kerry this summer. "After five years the time is right for a new voice," he explained.
"Myself and the management have been considering this for the past few weeks. I was on holidays and we met yesterday after I came back, before informing the county board.
"I then spoke to the players individually on the phone, and the few that I didn't get through to, I will be talking to them today. They were disappointed to hear that we were moving on, as were the board officials.
"It was a joint decision made by myself and the rest of the management team. It was with great reluctance that we made the decision, as there was massive pressure from the board and players wanting us to stay on.
"But you can overstay your welcome and we felt we had reached the natural end."
The former Kerry captain, famously hospitalised during the 1975 All-Ireland final against Dublin with the result that he missed the chance to lift Sam Maguire, added: "The players were like family really and I will miss greatly working with them.
"They were the finest characters I have come across and working with them is the most positive experience I have had in Gaelic football," added O'Sullivan.
"We had no conflict during our time in charge and got great support from the board and the players throughout that time.
"We did everything we could and tried everything we could to win a Munster title, but it just wasn't to be. That's life. To me, it's more about the journey than the destination."