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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 27 March, 2019
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Liam Sheedy: 'Let's call it straight - 22 of the 32 counties absolutely ignored (the club month)'

The Tipperary boss addressed a wide array of topics at a 2019 season launch yesterday.

TIPPERARY HURLING BOSS Liam Sheedy has spoken out at ‘the imbalance and the inconsistency’ in the approach of counties towards the GAA’s policy of designating April as a month solely for club activity.

Tipperary GAA Media Event Liam Sheedy with captain Seamus Callanan and vice-captain Noel McGrath in Semple Stadium yesterday. Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Sheedy believes his predecessor Michael Ryan was hampered in 2018 for Tipperary’s Munster championship campaign by the hectic schedule that the players had to undergo in club football and hurling action last April.

And 2010 All-Ireland winning supremo Sheedy believes it is an issue for the GAA when certain counties ignore the policy and others schedule a series of club matches.

“It’s about trying to get the balance right. I’ll be honest, I don’t think Mick (Ryan) or the team stood a chance last year. There’s no way they could have managed to play three weeks of club matches in a row and look to roll on and rock into four weeks in a row of championship.

“That was an impossible situation for all involved. Credit to them, they did push it really hard. I’ve an excellent relationship with the county board and we’ll sit down and look to plot a journey that works for the club player, works for the inter-county player and allows us all to be our best when it is required.

“But certainly the championship is brought forward a week this year – we’re starting a week earlier. Let’s call it straight – 22 of the 32 counties absolutely ignored (the club month). They can talk all they like about club month but if they’re serious about a club month we’ll have a club month; if they’re not, well move it.

“Why is it that some counties inside and outside of Munster will decide ‘well, we won’t play any club matches’ and other counties are going to try and flog the life out of each other for three or four weeks? I would be more upset about the imbalance and the inconsistency.

“We all know that teams went on camps and went and done various things and paid no penalty yet we had Waterford here playing their first league here because they got caught. It’s a bit all over the place and really needs to be tightened up. That’s only my view.

“My job with my own team and backroom team and working with the county board is to find a solution that works for the club player, works for the inter-county and allows us to play to our potential.”

Tipperary GAA Media Event Tipperary hurling boss Liam Sheedy. Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Sheedy departed as Tipperary manager after scaling the Liam MacCarthy summit when they thwarted Kilkenny’s five-in-a-row ambitions. He doesn’t agree that there is a risk of tarnishing his standing by returning to the hotseat.

“I am in a privileged position of having been an All-Ireland winning manager so that box is ticked. I mean sometimes there’s the risk of not doing it.

“I certainly haven’t felt under pressure or siege mentality in the last 10 weeks. I’ve just felt absolutely free and absolutely loving it. I’m happy in my own skin, I’ll give it 100%.

“But I’m under no illusions, like we’re outside the top six. The harsh reality is we won no championship game last year, I think the Clare game that we won in the league was our first competitive win in a long, long time. We are coming somewhat behind the pack. I don’t feel high risk, I just go for it.

“It’s a huge buzz, it’s a huge honour and it’s wonderful to be in around top class players. I have a lot to learn. Let’s not forget I’m eight years out of this game.

“I probably don’t have the energy I had eight or nine years ago but I still have a good tank of energy. I feel I can do something. I don’t under-estimate the challenge but I also appreciate the honour. Whenever this job packs up for me, I’ll have no regrets because I’m absolutely committed to giving it 100%.”

Sheedy can detect a noticeable shift in the demands being placed on managers.

“We’re not far off a second bus now at this stage, that’s one thing anyway,” laughed the Portroe native.

“It’s just the volume of work, obviously every team has the analysis, the strength and conditioning and how you prepare (the) team. Now it’s just too big of a job for one. The physio, even the guys doing the rubs, it’s just the volume coming in behind it.

“The whole analysis piece, it is a big big wheel that every aspects needs to roll because you can’t switch off in one area. It’s only when you saw John Kiely’s backroom team for the All-Ireland final last year, it was in the Limerick Leader, and you are thinking ‘Jaysus like, I didn’t have that many when I was here.’

“It’s just that the list seems to get longer and longer and the reality is every county is looking for the edge.”

Tipperary is Sheedy’s sporting focus in 2019 yet last year he was in the frame for a very different role in the GAA as he was a strong candidate to become the association’s new Director-General.

“I love sport and I love GAA. I was born and bred in it. I was more than happy to put myself forward. I felt I had loads to offer. I got to the final furlong and came up short and that’s okay.

“I have no regrets in that regard. It’s a tough assignment in fairness to Tom (Ryan) and John (Horan), they’ve a lot going on and a lot to get through.

Tom Ryan and John Horan GAA Director-General Tom Ryan and President John Horan. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“Tom Ryan and I sat at the same table for long periods. He’s a genuine GAA man and he’ll face those challenges. It is a difficult time now, crowds receding and various things and everything seems to be under the spotlight and everyone seems to be prodding.

“Overall the association is in a strong place and the key thing is that we just continue to go from strength to strength and that’s not something I take for granted. I’d be concerned when I hear about various counties where you hear that some of the players are not going in, they’re not committing to the GAA. Just there’s a few little amber lights flashing.

“When I was growing up you’d walk to Thurles to try and get in and get a place on the squad so we just need to be careful because that wouldn’t be good. Your flagship game and your flagship team in your county should be what everyone’s attracted to and that drives participation in everything else.

“I think there’s a few challenges that we do face and it’s important we get a hold of them challenges. You take the path that chosen and i’m really comfortable in the Teneo tracksuit and the Tipperary sideline.”

Sheedy also sought to apologise for the scenario that arose last month when goalkeeper Brian Hogan was not allowed to discuss topics about Tipperary at a sponsorship launch in Dublin.

“It was crossed wires. I probably take responsibility for it myself. He said he was going to a Fitzgibbon launch and I said, ‘Power on, talk about the Fitzgibbon, we’ll be running our own launch for Tipp.’

“I sort of probably tried to say, ‘Well that’s Fitzgibbon and we’ll have our own media in Tipp’ like I always did. I’d take responsibility for it myself. There was crossed wires. It should never have happened.

“I’m very pro-media. I understand the importance of the role that the media play in promoting our games so I apologise for the mishap. I would be disappointed. I felt some people in the media jumped on it unfairly. I felt some of the print was non-factual and incorrect and that disappointed me.

“I wasn’t going to answer back because I know that deep down me and my players will get loads of exposure and and we see value in it. It shouldn’t have happened but unfortunately it did.”

Following a tough Six Nations opening defeat to England, Joe Schmidt will look to regroup against a dangerous Scotland side. This week, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey are joined by Bernard Jackman to assess the damage of last weekend and look ahead to the clash in Murrayfield:


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Fintan O'Toole

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