Liam Sheedy says he is leaving the job as manager of the Tipperary senior hurling team 'without one ounce of regret'
The break-up of one of the most successful Tipperary senior hurling teams of the modern era has begun, with manager Liam Sheedy and Brendan Maher, an All-Ireland winning captain and one of the team’s linchpins, announcing their retirement in the past week.
Liam Sheedy has brought the curtain down on his successful second term as manager, during which he repeated his famous All-Ireland success of 2010 by recapturing the MacCarthy Cup two years ago. They say in sport that you should never go back but the Portroe man disproved that theory with the 2019 All-Ireland success.
“I have a lot of close confidantes, people I would take a lot of advice from and they were saying ‘Jesus Liam don’t do it, you have too much to lose,’” he told The Nationalist this week.
“But my gut was telling me to do it and there was something left untapped in here and it turned out to be a great decision.
“Over the three years of the journey I have enjoyed every bit of it. The players have given me absolutely everything. If any of them need any help or they need anything in a professional matter, I will be there for them.”
He says he is walking away from the job without any regrets.
“Every time I went to training, every time I went to a match, every time I did my pre-match speech, which was well rehearsed and the preparation was always done for training...every aspect that I could give for that team, I left no stone unturned in the preparation.
“So that’s why it’s a really comfortable seat that I sit on right now, knowing that I gave it absolutely everything.
“I’m not saying that I got it all right. Everyone has a view in terms of who should start and who should finish, who should come on, who should make the panel and who shouldn’t.
“I haven’t one ounce of regret because I gave it 100 per cent and so did my management team and backroom team, and in fairness so did the players.”
Above: Liam Sheedy with Padraic Maher. The former manager says that everyone in the group "gave it 100 per cent."
When asked about the highlights of his second stint in charge, apart from beating Kilkenny in the 2019 All-Ireland final, he singled out that year’s semi-final against Wexford.
“If you asked me what was the most incredible performance of the group, I think that was the day where the group decided we’re not for turning.
“I think that the second half of that semi-final with a man down and we were down five, six or seven points, whatever it was at that time, we were in a corner and we fought our way out of it with a man down, that will probably live long in my memory.
“Potentially one of the best 35 minutes of hurling we’ve had since I came back was in a game where unfortunately we didn’t match that in the second half, in this year’s Munster final. While we all know that the result wasn’t what we wanted, I feel that the first half performance was on a par with anything the group had done, I thought they were exceptional in that first half.”
He said that the third quarter of that game would “haunt” him, when his side “just got completely overrun and completely outplayed and couldn’t get our hands on the ball,” adding that he would shoulder some of the responsibility for that.
Having built a ten-point lead at half-time against Limerick, he stated “the Munster final was a game we needed to win. We probably never really recovered after that, but we never stopped fighting and we never stopped trying.”
Explaining the decision to step down and describing the role of an inter-county manager as “full-on but hugely enjoyable,” he said “I think it is a three-year project, there’s loads of talent to come through. We didn’t feel that one year was the right thing to do for this team right now.
“There’s the core of a really good bunch there, but for me it was three years or no years.
“We (the management team) had a really good chat about it over the weekend, we took a good few hours on it. (The decision) was in the best interests of ourselves and our own health, we felt we left nothing in the tank and gave it everything.”
He added that an inter-county season with Covid “would probably take up more energy, because it’s just not normal.
“Covid struck, but I would say over the last two years we have given a lot of performances where hopefully it lifted the spirits of some people that are sitting at home and can’t move.
“That is what we have brought. Yes, it didn’t always work out but I would be as pleased getting a text from someone who says ‘ye showed an incredible spirit today and came up short but I am so proud to be from Tipperary.’ That stuff matters to me.”
Liam Sheedy also paid tribute to Brendan Maher.
“What he has gone on to achieve is incredible. He has been immense on the pitch and off the pitch, as well as the leadership he brings, an exceptional guy. He has given everything and could have easily, after ten years when the knee went, said that is me done but true to form he came back.”
Above: Liam Sheedy has paid tribute to Eamon O'Shea and his influence on Tipperary hurling
He was also full of praise for his backroom team, saying that people like Tommy Dunne, Eoin Kelly and Darragh Egan “are not easily found” and what Eamon O’Shea had given the county in the last 15 years was “nothing short of incredible.”
Predicting a bright future for Tipperary hurling, he said the younger players were “growing and maturing every month and it is better and better they will get.
“There are a lot of people ready to say now we are in trouble. But when we are down we are not as far down as people think and when we are up we are not as high as we think.
“This Tipperary dressing room is a serious dressing room, this Tipperary dressing room will be competitive and they have ambitions of going on and doing great things and creating their own history.
“That is the challenge for some of these younger lads, the ambition they have is the same as the likes of Paudie Maher and the rest of them had as young lads so there is loads to look forward in this Tipperary team, no question.”
When asked what is next for him, he says “I will just move from the sideline back up into the stand, and God help anyone that is sitting beside me because I’ll still be jumping up and down leaping around the place because Tipperary hurling matters to me.
“And I just want to wish whoever comes in to take up the mantle the very best of luck and they will have a supporter up in the stand in Liam Sheedy.”
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