Friday 15 December 2017

Liam Sheedy emerges as frontrunner to take the reins in Limerick

Liam Sheedy is the favourite to take over in Limerick
Liam Sheedy is the favourite to take over in Limerick
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Limerick's rise in fortunes under John Allen will leave them favourably disposed towards another outsider at the helm as the search gets under way for what will be the county's ninth hurling manager since the turn of the Millennium.

The five-man selection committee – Mike O'Riordan, Donal Morrissey, Damien Quigley, Jim Woulfe and Paudie Fitzmaurice – hope to be able to bring a nomination before the October meeting of the county board.

Former Tipperary All-Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy has been installed as 2/1 favourite by the bookies, but that may be no more than a response to the fact that he is not currently involved in inter-county management.

He quit Tipperary after steering them to All-Ireland glory in 2010, citing work pressures as the reason for his decision.

Whatever about Sheedy, there is certain to be plenty interest in the Limerick job after their dramatic turn in fortunes since 2010 when they were forced to field a largely second-string team, arising from a dispute which prompted several players to leave the panel. They were unhappy with the manner in which Justin McCarthy culled a number of their colleagues at the end of 2009 season.

The row cost Limerick a year in their development programme, but they quickly made up for lost time under Donal O'Grady, who was in charge in 2011.

They made good progress that year, but he left at the end of the season, much to the disappointment of players and supporters alike.

Two years on, there is even more disappointment in Limerick following Allen's decision not to continue for a third season.

It was initially thought likely that he would only spend two seasons with Limerick, but hopes grew in the county that he would extend his stay after this year's excellent championship run, which took them to Munster title glory for the first time since 1996.

Successes over Tipperary and Cork, the two pre-season favourites for the Munster title, raised hopes that Limerick could win the All-Ireland title for the first time in 40 years, but they failed to replicate their provincial final form in Croke Park where they lost to Clare in the semi-final.

It was thought in Limerick that when Allen did not make a quick decision to quit he might be persuaded to stay, but he delivered the bad news to the county board this week.

With Limerick hurling now on a very sound footing – their minors also won the Munster title – it's crucial for the county board to get the best man aboard for the next phase of the plan.

Current selector, John Kiely could be a contender if the selection panel opt for continuity, based on the platform put down by Allen.

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