Monday 19 February 2018

Cyril Farrell: Deluded manager-bashers losing run of themselves

TJ Ryan will continue as Limerick manager despite negative comments at the Limerick County Board meeting
TJ Ryan will continue as Limerick manager despite negative comments at the Limerick County Board meeting

Cyril Farrell

I was intrigued by some of the comments at a Limerick County Board meeting this week when the qualifier defeat by Dublin was discussed.

Now, if anything summed up the nonsense that managers have to deal with, it came through loud and clear from that meeting.

One delegate was of the opinion that when Limerick went eight points ahead, they "should have launched a savage attack, like bulls on the streets of Spain".

Someone else questioned the team's motivation, noting that he saw "one player leaning on his hurley".

And so it went. According to another delegate, some players were playing as individuals rather than team members. And then there was the claim that Limerick "won't win anything unless we're promoted".

Didn't they win the Munster title two years ago from Division 1B and come within two points of Kilkenny in last year's All-Ireland semi-final?

I hope manager TJ Ryan saw the comments for what they were - rubbish.


No one would have been more disappointed than him by the defeat, yet he has to put up with infantile stuff about bulls on the streets of Spain and players leaning on their hurleys.

The implication was that if players and management got their act together, Limerick would now be in the quarter-final. It had to be their fault.

There was no mention of the resilience and technique Dublin showed to rescue what looked like a hopeless situation.

A week earlier, Ger Cunningham was criticised by former Dublin manager Humphrey Kelleher.

Presumably, Cunningham would have got more stick from various quarters if they had lost last Saturday. Yet, if it weren't for a late equalising point by Galway in the Leinster quarter-final, Dublin would almost certainly have avoided the qualifiers altogether.

Do some Limerick hurling people think it's beneath them to lose to Dublin? Frankly, I don't believe that the majority are of that view, no more than they want Ryan in the firing line.

However, minorities can make a lot of noise, especially where managers are concerned.

Ryan was unlucky that the county board meeting came so soon after the Dublin game. Emotions were still raw so it was seen as a chance to let off steam, which would have cooled down if discussion on the championship had been deferred for a month.

Anyway, Ryan is to continue as Limerick manager, which is as it should be. The same goes for Davy Fitzgerald in Clare. His critics are enjoying a field day, but then some of them were even having a go after Clare won the 2013 All-Ireland.

It's astonishing how quickly a county can lose the run of itself. Clare weren't beaten by a Division 2 team last Saturday, but rather by Cork, one of hurling's three superpowers.

And while they haven't won an All-Ireland for a decade, they reached one final and three semi-finals under Jimmy Barry-Murphy in recent seasons, as well as landing a Munster title.

Sure, there is plenty of talent in Clare at present, but the same goes for Cork.

Just because Cork won a close call last Saturday, it doesn't mean that Clare got everything wrong.

But then, it seems that win or lose, Fitzgerald's critics will have their say.

While Ryan and Fitzgerald are to continue, Brian Whelahan decided to opt out in Offaly. He said that a new voice in the dressing-room might make a difference.

It won't. The reality is that Offaly have not been producing the quality of player required to compete successfully at the highest level, so even if Brian Cody made a dramatic switch to the Midlands, it would make little difference.

I hope Whelahan continues to be involved with Offaly in some capacity. He's a good coach, and an inspirational figure, who just happened to be in charge at a difficult time in the county's history.

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