Sport Hurling

Thursday 22 March 2018

Team fashioned in the image of its mentors

Their traits are franked all over the champions, writes Jamesie O'Connor

J O'Connor

In Eoin Kelly's speech after the All-Ireland final, the respect he obviously had for the management team that steered Tipperary to victory was palpable.

After speaking highly of both coach Eamon O'Shea and selector Michael Ryan, he finally came to his manager Liam Sheedy, someone he referred to as "our leader".

"When he took over, the ship was sinking, but by God is this ship sailing tonight," continued Kelly, the passion in his voice signifying that he hadn't forgotten where Tipp were, when Sheedy took over three years ago. Beaten in the All-Ireland quarter-final by Wexford, with both Kelly and Brendan Cummins marginalised and sitting on the sideline, player morale was on the floor.

Consequently, with two Munster titles and the holy grail that is the All-Ireland title, three years later, credit has to go to the Portroe man and his management team for what they have achieved. Establishing the structures, creating the environment and fostering the culture that enabled this team to achieve the success they did was no small feat, especially in the Cody era. That couldn't have happened without their success in re-energising the older players, getting the entire panel to buy into their philosophy and bringing a level of professionalism to the set-up.

I knew O'Shea would be stepping down given he lives and works in Galway but the fact that Sheedy and Ryan were also going came as a big surprise when I heard it on Thursday.

In hindsight, given their work commitments, and the savage sacrifices they have been required to make over the last three years, that they're walking away now, having reached their Everest, is perfectly understandable. What they leave behind is a Tipperary side in considerably stronger and better shape than when they found it. The pleasing aspect must be that while they created the conditions that allowed the players and team to develop it's own personality their own traits are franked all over it. As players Sheedy and Ryan were as selfless and honest as they come.

O'Shea was a flair player. That their team won the All-Ireland playing the type of hurling they wanted them to play, and doing so in a style and manner befitting champions must have been deeply satisfying. Replacing them will not be easy.

Sunday Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport