Liam Sheedy says his predecessor Michael Ryan pushed him hard to take on Tipperary again.
“I probably haven't felt as good in years as I have in the last few days since I made the decision to go back" - Liam Sheedy.
New Tipperary hurling Manager Liam Sheedy has told of how the man he took over from, Michael Ryan, was the one who pushed him hardest to return to the role he vacated in 2010.
Speaking in the Abbeycourt Hotel, Nenagh this week, to The Tipperary Star, the Portroe man said that he had been approached initially by Board officials, but turned down the approach on the basis of not having the time to do the job.
However, the decision was “biting away” at him and he returned to the Board later on and informed them that he was willing to have a go.
“My initial reaction was that I was still in the write-off mode. But, it wasn't going away – it was biting at me and it kept biting and obviously I have some very close friends and they were saying, are you mad? – you have a chance to manage your own county. If you asked me who gave me the greatest push to come into this job, it has been Mick Ryan. Mick and I are great friends and very close. He was been a huge support – we work together in Bank of Ireland and he said to me, go in Liam. He spent nine years in there and has been a fantastic person for Tipp when you consider all he has given as a player, a selector and as a Manager. He said go in, bring a new voice and give it a go. He feels there is a good cropthat has the potential to go and challenge.
In a full and frank discussion which ranged from everything to discipline amongst the players, to the process of ensuring that there is fun involved for all the camp, Liam confessed that he just cannot wait to get back into it.
“I probably haven't felt as good in years as I have in the last few days since I made the decision. My gut said, I am heading into my late forties now and I am getting a chance to manage my own county again and that's not an opportunity that a lot of people get. To me it is one of the best jobs in the country and here I am potentially turning it down. I spend a lot of time in the car and that gives you a lot of mind time where you are talking to yourself and it kept coming back to me. We are a proud GAA family and I just said here it goes. Since I made the decision, I have been buzzing,” he says.
Indeed, Liam has a real spring in his step these days as he continues to put his backroom team together and he will have been greatly enthused by what he has seen in the club games over the last few weekends also. But, he has not yet spoken to the players about the move.
Michael Ryan who pushed Liam Sheedy to consider taking on the Tipp job.
“I have a bit of work to do before I get to that juncture yet, because my main priority is to get my backroom team in place and the people around me. That's where all my focus is at the moment and in fairness a lot of the players are involved in the latter stages of the Seamus O'Riain or the Dan Breen, with their clubs right now. They have loads to be getting on with and they can enjoy the last few rounds of the championships and their time with their clubs and then in November we'll come back in and get ready for the start of January.”
The disciplinary issue has been rearing its head and Liam in conscious of the perception. But, he is also quick to shoot it down.
“I have never had a disciplinary issue of any serious nature in any of the Tipperary teams that I have been involved with. They have been a pleasure to deal with, and when I took this job back in 2007 there was all talk about "are you mad, this is toxic, this is this, this is that". When we lost to Cork in 2010, there was a rumour mill building in the background that to this day was a disgrace. But I couldn't control it and I just let it off, but it didn't affect the circle. Sometimes there's a vacuum of information and people start to fill it with crap. That's hard to take but I can't control that.
“But I would be happy that when we go and we facilitate this group and we look to give them the environment where they can grow and flourish, there will be an expectation in terms of how they carry themselves as inter-county players, and there should be. And I would be absolutely confident that under my watch they'll respect that. They're representing their club, their family and their friends, and I suppose that's what I'm going to try and create,” he says.
For all that, the Tipperary players can expect to enjoy the experience. All too often nowadays the narrative speaks of a regimental bootcamp which allows little down time for inter county players. Liam sees this as being counter productive and his aim is to enjoy the experience and to ensure that the players do as well.
“I want this to be an enjoyable set-up, where players jump out of the car and enjoy working hard and pushing themselves to the limits. At the end of the day, there's a danger it can become overly-pressurised. The three years between 2008-10 were the best three years of my life, and I certainly enjoyed every minute of it. Thankfully we got to the summit at the last of it, but whether I did or I didn't there are parts of that three years that I look back on that had just been phenomenal.
I'm going to do everything I can to try and ensure we have a really enjoyable set-up; that we work hard while we're in there; that we enjoy what we do; and that there's a bit of fun attached to it. I'm a big believer in that.
“People talk about crisis and pressure and all that - if I was above in Crumlin (hospital) with one of my children and they were on the flat of their backs not knowing had they a future, that's crisis and that's pressure. Now inter-county hurling should be a hugely enjoyable experience and that's my job to try and facilitate that and create that environment. Not that it won't be hard or that it won't be challenging and that they won't be pushed. At the end of the day you enjoy doing it, because you know you're getting a chance to put on your county jersey.
“I think that's hugely important. There is a danger with all the sports science and all the analysis that you can get into paralysis by analysis - at the end of the day you've got to get the ball from one end of the field down to the other, and you've got to score more than the opposition. I wouldn't be losing sight of that.” said Liam who admitted that he had made his mind up to go in June 2010 as a result of his work commitments with Bank of Ireland - he had been taking advice from Munster and Irish rugby Coach Declan Kidney at the time.