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5 Talking Points - John Allen steps down as Limerick boss

It was confirmed last night that the Cork man will not be involved next season.

John Allen with the Limerick team after the Munster final.
John Allen with the Limerick team after the Munster final.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

1. Allen opts not to seek extension

This was a managerial scenario which was different to those that have existed in other counties. There was no rancour and no debate.

The Limerick county board officials, players and supporters all wanted Allen to stay on for at least a third year. There was little surprise in that with the memories of July in the Gaelic Grounds still so fresh.

But while there was no disquiet, concerns did emerge in recent weeks as word leaked out that Allen was thinking of calling it a day. Those fears were confirmed last night when it emerged that the Cork man felt it was best for himself and Limerick to part ways.

Limerick captain Donal O’Grady described Allen today on ‘Morning Ireland’ as someone who keeps things close to his chest.

He has a track record of not sticking around too long in the hotseat as he only stayed in charge of Cork for two seasons, 2005 and 2006. And whatever his reasons in this situation, he felt it was time to bring the curtain down after two years.

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2. Setback for Limerick hurling

For a county who has known turbulent hurling times over the past decade, the loss of Allen is a setback they could have done without. Allen, and his predecessor Donal O’Grady brought badly-needed stability back to Limerick hurling.

The departure of Allen now is a disappointment. He was a manager well-liked by the players and along with his backroom team, he had done a superb job in elevating their level of performance.

If Allen had stayed on, it would have ensured Limerick had a steady hand at the tiller but now there is fresh uncertainty created. Limerick’s manager for the 2014 season will be their ninth in 13 years.

It’s hardly a welcome trend and you have to go back to Eamonn Cregan, who walked away in 2002, for the last Limerick manager who had at least three full campaigns under his belt.

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John Allen during the All-Ireland semi-final against Clare.
Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

3. The hunt for a replacement

It’s not something they wanted to do but that hunt for a replacement starts already for Limerick. County board secretary Mike O’Riordan, treasurer Donal Morrissey and Damien Quigley, Jim Woulfe and Paudie Fitzmaurice, who have overseen the appointment of the last two managers, will form the five-man committee to find a successor.

Tipperary’s Liam Sheedy has been touted heavily and he would be a high-profile appointment. Ken Hogan has plenty experience with the Premier U21 teams while former Clare boss Tony Considine has a fine track record at local level in Limerick with Kilmallock and Garryspillane.

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If the search is to stay within Limerick then John Kiely, a selector with Allen, is a contender while cases can also be made for former defensive legends TJ Ryan and Ciaran Carey.

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Liam Sheedy
Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

4. Harnessing the momentum from 2013

Whoever does take up the mantle in Limerick must ensure that there is progression rather than regression from 2013. Despite the fact that they never got up to speed against Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final, and the subsequent criticism within the county of the build-up to the game, those events cannot overshadow the 2013 season.

Claiming a first Munster title in 17 years created a magical afternoon in the Gaelic Grounds in July. Their form in overturning Tipperary and Cork on the provincial stage was excellent.

The age profile of the squad is young, there is plenty talent there to exploit and the county also picked up a Munster minor title this year. The raw materials are there but the new man must ensure Limerick do not slip into a familiar cycle of not developing the building blocks that are in place.

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Gavin O’Mahony celebrates after the Munster final
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

5. John Allen’s legacy in Limerick

They didn’t scratch their 40-year itch to land the Liam McCarthy Cup but Limerick is still in a healthy place after being under the watch of John Allen. The regrets will linger that they did not put their best foot forward in August in Croke Park.

But delivering a Munster crown is not to be sniffed at given how desperate Limerick have been to land that title. Achieving that enhances the reputation of Allen as an inter-county manager.

He took over at the start of 2012 after five seasons spent as an observer of the inter-county game. By succeeding with a second Munster hurling county, Allen has reaffirmed his managerial credentials.

Will he take up another position at the top level? Waterford would be a Munster county on the managerial hunt who would be desperate to secure his services. But the prospect of Allen stepping back from the inter-county game for a time is a live one.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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