Saturday 7 December 2019

Ryan take note: Mid-season mayhem can mean early exit

Limerick manager TJ Ryan. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Limerick manager TJ Ryan. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

TJ Ryan will be hoping that the more positive examples of recovery from managerial upheaval underpin Limerick's bid to get their season back on track when they take on Tipperary in the Munster hurling semi-final on Sunday.

Ryan thought he would be going into the championship as joint-manager but the dream ticket was torn up when Donal O'Grady quit in April.

History suggests that managerial upheaval during the season hinders championship campaigns but there have been exceptions too, notably the dramatic turnaround by Offaly hurlers in 1998 and the surge by Waterford 10 years later when they switched leaders in June.

Limerick also recovered quite well after losing managers in the 2005 and '06 seasons.

However, there are several instances of how mid-season managerial change was followed by championship failure.

Here's how counties who experienced managerial turmoil in mid-flow fared over the years:

Cavan 2012: Val Andrews left in April after a disappointing league and was replaced by Terry Hyland, who had served as joint-manager in 2011. Cavan lost to Donegal in the Ulster first round, beat Fermanagh in the qualifiers but lost heavily to Kildare in the next round.

Offaly 2012: Gerry Cooney left the football camp after a poor league and was replaced by Tom Coffey. Offaly lost to Kildare by 13 points in the first round of Leinster, followed by a five-point defeat by Tipperary in the first round of the qualifiers.

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Westmeath 2010: Brendan Hackett quit in April 2010 after a bad run of results. He was replaced by Pat Flanagan, who led Westmeath to a one-point win over Wicklow in the Leinster quarter-finals before losing to Louth in the semi-finals and to Derry in the qualifiers.

Cork 2009: A stand-off between the hurlers and the county board over Gerald McCarthy's continuing as manager left Cork short-handed until late March when McCarthy departed and was replaced by Denis Walsh. Cork lost to Tipp by three points in the Munster quarter-final and by seven points to Galway in the qualifiers.

Offaly 2009: Richie Connor quit as football manager during the league and was replaced by Tom Cribbin. Offaly lost in the Leinster and qualifier first rounds.

Waterford 2008: A player revolt following a heavy Munster quarter-final defeat by Clare in early June led to the departure of Justin McCarthy, who was replaced by Davy Fitzgerald. Three months later, Waterford were in the All-Ireland final and while they lost heavily to Kilkenny, it was still quite an achievement to reach the decider for the first time since 1963.

Roscommon 2008: John Maughan resigned in late March after a poor league run. U-21 manager Michael Ryan took charge for the championship where Roscommon were well beaten by Galway in the Connacht first round and by Donegal in the first round of the qualifiers.

Limerick 2006: Joe McKenna quit after Clare inflicted a heavy defeat on Limerick in the qualifiers in mid-June. They recovered under new manager Richie Bennis and reached the All-Ireland quarter-final, where they were unlucky to lose by a point to Cork.

Limerick 2005: Pat Joe Whelahan resigned during the league and was replaced by Joe McKenna. Limerick lost the Munster quarter-final by a point to Tipperary by a point after extra-time in a replay. They later reached the All-Ireland quarter-final, losing to Kilkenny by five points.

Roscommon 2005: Tommy Carr quit in mid-season was replaced by John Maughan. Roscommon lost the Connacht semi-final to Mayo and their first qualifier tie to Louth.

Offaly 1998: 'Babs' Keating quit following a Leinster final defeat by Kilkenny but 10 weeks later, Offaly were All-Ireland champions under Michael Bond after a dramatic change of fortune.

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