Wednesday 19 June 2019

Liam Sheedy: I have a job to try and win back the Tipp public

Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy. Photo: Sportsfile
Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It never left the back of Liam Sheedy's mind, the thought of a second coming.

Back in May of 2010, long before the 'Drive for Five' had been halted, Sheedy knew his time in the Tipperary hot seat was done. After three seasons, hurling had to give way to work.

"I was doing 16-hour days and that just becomes unmanageable," Sheedy said, ahead of his managerial return tonight against Limerick. "I was going to kill myself or damage myself. So something had to give. As I said, I made choices at the time. I really enjoyed my three years there."

And he watched on as Tipperary struggled to deliver on what 2010 promised.

All the while the thought nagged at him about giving it another go.

"I'm chugging on in years. You probably do get to a stage where, 'Will you ever be able to do it again?' I probably left a bit prematurely the last time - I made some career decisions that, to be fair, have worked out very well for me.

"There is still a group of players I would have a close affiliation with, who would have been involved with me last time. They are probably coming to the back end of their careers whereas when they started out with me originally, they were in the infancy of their careers.

"Look, I thought long and hard about it. I was driving around and it wasn't going away. It was niggling at me. I had a chat to a lot of people I take advice from, had a chat at home, and there was no roadblocks put up. So I said, 'Here goes'.

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"The easy thing for me to do… I loved my time with 'The Sunday Game', with RTé. But no different to the GAA slogan, 'Nothing beats being there', I don't think anything beats being involved with the team."

They are a few weeks into their new season now and for Sheedy there are a number of challenges ahead including pulling the various generations within his squad together.

The players that backboned his 2010 side, the players in their mid 20s and the stars of the All-Ireland-winning U-21 team of this year all have to be gelled together.

And he's confident there's more to come from the senior men.

"Like Seamus Callanan was dogged with injury all last year. Brendan Maher is coming back from injury. Pádraic Maher has had a massive club campaign over the years. Noel McGrath has always been in Loughmore playing right up until November and December. These guys have lots to offer.

"The challenge is mine and the challenge is that how do we ensure that we get these boys to the peak of their powers come the middle of summer. (If) these guys are fresh and hungry and they are going out to battle and they are injury-free then they will be able to compete.

Youth

"That is what I am really looking forward to is working with the youth, the guys that are in the middle in the 25 and 26, and some of the guys that I have had my hands on before."

Injuries haven't helped him so far with five players who are part of his extended panel suffering cruciate injuries inside the last 12 months.

"That is just chronic bad luck in my view. There are things we are looking to see what we change in terms of how we prepare and how we get ourselves set up.

"Conor Hammersley, player of the year in Tipp this year, and all of a sudden he is lost. Brendan Maher is trying to make his way back, Billy McCarthy, Seán Curran and Michael Cahill are all going to struggle to see a pitch in 2019.

"It's difficult to get your full panel and get your best team on the pitch. That is a challenge but certainly a blend of youth and experience is really important.

"I go back to when we were competitive in 2008, '09, '10 in my last tenure you had the young guys coming through you also had the experienced guys at the other end.

"That's what you need is a good mix in a panel. I think the young guys, having that winning mentality coming from U-21 is never a bad thing coming into a senior set-up."

The journey starts again tonight. It's the first step on a long road.

"I have a job to try and win back the Tipperary public who probably haven't been travelling in numbers to follow this team.

"My job is try and find a team that Tipperary can follow in 2019. I will leave no stone unturned to try and make that happen."

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