Wednesday 19 December 2018

Duffy decisions good for games - Sheedy

Dublin hurler Eoghan O’Donnell with Sophie Williams, 11, Abbie O’Neill, 12, and Rebecca Baker, 12, at the AIG Heroes initiative at Holy Spirit BNS, Ballymun. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Dublin hurler Eoghan O’Donnell with Sophie Williams, 11, Abbie O’Neill, 12, and Rebecca Baker, 12, at the AIG Heroes initiative at Holy Spirit BNS, Ballymun. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Former Tipperary All-Ireland-winning hurling manager Liam Sheedy has credited departing GAA director-general Páraic Duffy for his openness to change and the transformation the association has undergone under his direction over the last 10 years.

Duffy is due to depart the role in March and Sheedy's name has been linked with the position, given that he's a current member of the GAA's management committee and has mixed business and administration experience at a high level with his position in Bank of Ireland.

But he remains non-committal about putting himself forward for the role, stating that for now Duffy's work should be applauded.

Sheedy disputed that the association had moved too much in a commercial direction during his tenure and that Duffy's values very much reflected those of the Association.

"I've been lucky enough to see Páraic work up close through the Hurling 2020 (committee) and sitting on management. He's one of the best administrators I've ever seen.

"What he's done for the game, on the pitch and off the pitch, very open to change, very strong on the amateur ethos and protecting that. His values are very similar to what the GAA stand for. It's a big organisation. Everybody has a view. It's not an easy job to do."

RTÉ analyst Liam Sheedy. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
RTÉ analyst Liam Sheedy. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Sheedy said that it was "an honour to be associated with it" but "all of the talk at the moment should be about the wonderful job Duffy has done.

"When they look back and see where he got it, where he has taken it, from a commercial point of view, a games point of view.

"I would say every decision he made has been for the good of the game. The biggest asset we have is the game, the players who are involved.

"Look at the fabulous stadiums we have, the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh - look at the organisation right across the island of Ireland."

Sheedy is looking forward to the next hurling championship format being rolled out and feels it will bring certainty to club players.

"The club player has lost out over the last number of years because if there's a draw, all club fixtures are gone again.

"Bringing the championship forward to conclude in August, no more replays unless it's a provincial or All-Ireland final and having the structure that says the amount of counties that will be able to play club from the middle of June, end of June, end of July - people will be able to play their championships," he figured.

The 2010 All-Ireland-winning manager feels home advantage in the provincial round robin will be a big thing.

"When I was growing up, Tipperary regularly played in Thurles. How long is it since a young child has seen their Clare team roll out in Ennis? This is new stuff. Ultimately, it's worth a shot. There's an appetite for it. We'll have a wonderful array of games."

"The teams that have home advantage first - that's something. And the team that gets the bye in the middle (will benefit). So the permutations will be a factor."

Sheedy also paid tribute to recently-departed Tipperary kitman John 'Hotpoint' Hayes who was told earlier this month that his services were no longer required after 30 years of involvement.


Sheedy worked with 'Hotpoint' as player and manager. "The job that someone like 'Hotpoint' does. It was hard to beat me to training when I was involved with Tipp - I tried to be first in. You couldn't beat 'Hotpoint'.

"Doesn't that sum up the GAA, what he has given voluntarily the last 30 years, driving around in the van. All he wanted was to be involved. He had a huge involvement with the squads, involved with all the managers who won All-Irelands. He had a huge role to play in my All-Ireland victory. He was a key cog."

Sheedy also believes Tipperary manager Michael Ryan must strengthen his squad more than his team in the months ahead.

"When it came to the business end of the championship, they probably lacked that strength in depth. When you looked at the programme you wondered who was going to be the five to come in. That's what he has to fix. We didn't really have that in 2017."

And he feels Dublin, under Pat Gilroy, are the team with the most potential improvement.

"Pat is a superb appointment. From someone who has been involved in the situation, ultimately it's about managing people. And he is excellent in that respect.

"His credibility, his pedigree for managing people in a business and sporting context is superb."

Irish Independent

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