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New Premier management will inherit 'family' with bright future

IT was one of the words that kept popping up after Tipp's All-Ireland final win. Liam Sheedy and others routinely described the squad as 'family' and if that can be defined as a unit that goes through the mill but comes out the other side in one piece, then it's accurate enough.

Yesterday, the head of the family stepped down. It came as a shock that Sheedy and his back-room team stepped down en masse, with only Eamon O'Shea having been expected to walk away due to his commitments as a lecturer with NUI, Galway.

There would have been huge temptation to stay. Most of that side are still only learning their trade and they are set to be a force for years to come. But Sheedy and Co stepped down and Tipp now go in search of a successor.

The men who guided the U-21 side to an emphatic All Ireland success, Ken Hogan (above) and Tommy Dunne, are a ready-made replacement.

Dunne has all the credentials. He is an All-Ireland winning captain and over the course of the last few years he would have handled most of the players in the senior set-up through his roles with the county's various underage teams.

That his brother Benny is still on the squad shouldn't be an obstacle. But one thing is for certain, Tipp won't look beyond their own borders for a replacement.

People were quick to draw parallels between Sheedy's decision to walk away and Nicky English's resignation in 2001 but the two scenarios are very different. English coaxed an All-Ireland out of a much older side while Sheedy built this Tipp side up, before winning the All-Ireland by placing his faith in his young players.

Under Sheedy, Tipp won every competition available to them from the Waterford Crystal to the league and the Munster championship. In his first year in charge they reached the All-Ireland semi-final. In 2009, they were beaten in an epic final by Kilkenny before they took their revenge last month to complete the set. He has certainly left them in better shape than when he found them and that they played with no little style shouldn't be forgotten.

The Sheedy era may be over but this edition of the Premier county's hurlers are only just beginning their adventure.

Irish Independent