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Liam Sheedy credits hurling roots with assisting Long's development

The former Tipperary All-Ireland winning manager is full of praise for the former county minor and current West Brom striker.

Ireland international Shane Long.
Ireland international Shane Long.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

FORMER TIPPERARY MANAGER Liam Sheedy believes that Shane Long’s hurling roots have been integral to his rise to prominence as an Irish soccer international.

Long is currently in a rich vein of form for West Brom in the Premier League and bagged his sixth goal of the season during their 2-1 win over Chelsea last Saturday.

Long fired 2-1 for Tipperary in the 2003 Munster minor hurling final against Cork but when Sheedy took over the county minor side in 2005, Long was unavailable as he had begun his soccer career with Cork City.

The 2010 All-Ireland senior winning manager believes that Long would have been part of the Tipperary squad that triumphed two years ago if he had remained involved in hurling.

“Shane Long was the only one I lost.  I was sad to lose him too because he was a cracking player. Without a shadow of a doubt (he’d have been involved in 2010), an exceptional talent in him.

“He had to work for everything he got in hurling.  That’s the environment he was brought up in.  You had to work for everything you get.  I think it very much helps, absolutely. Maybe there’s a good few of them Premiership players could do with a few seasons playing hurling.

“You see the height he can jump for a header, he was the very same going up into the sky to catch a hurling ball. His ability to win primary possession for a small man is outstanding. He was very exciting.”

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The issue of players fulfilling a dual mandate has cropped up in Tipperary in recent seasons with promising youngsters having won an All-Ireland minor football title last year and an All-Ireland minor hurling title last September.

Sheedy believes the county should have the capacity to compete in both codes yet also reckons ‘a significant amount’ will choose hurling.

“Guys, when they are young will play different sports and there will come a time when they have to make the choice. But I’d be happy that there will be a significant amount of them will chose hurling because to me it’s the best field game in the world.

“We are a very big county and we should be able to field strong teams in both codes.  The footballers turned their season around with how they performed through the year.

“Unfortunately they find themselves up against Cork and Kerry, which isn’t easy. But they’ve shown at underage they can compete, and I think we can continue to be competitive.

“Administration in Tipperary is very tuned clued into what they want to achieve on the pitch as well as off the pitch. That’s hugely important.  The structures are very much in place.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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