In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely writes about the ongoing search for a new Limerick hurling manager.
Once more the Limerick County Board is in search of a hurling manager after the expected departure of John Allen and once again all of the talk is who will replace the third Cork man we have had in a row?
All sorts of names have been mentioned but many of those are not serious contenders and the next couple of weeks will see some meat put on the bones as to who will lead Limerick hurling for the coming years.
Most people I am speaking to are of the view that the time is now right for a home grown manager and that way we might see some passion on the line and on the field. It was great to win this year’s Munster Championship as it will provide a base to build on but in reality we have a fair bit of ground to travel to develop the team as serious All Ireland contenders.
We had a chance this year but the team was unable to grasp it. This was the year to take it with both hands because I don’t see it coming as handy over the next couple of years. This was an unusual year as we had many upsets but in the history of hurling we don’t have many years like that. The game is changing somewhat in style and others may feel that they have to adapt but time will tell if players can last the current style as it places huge demands on them.
If Limerick hurling was a business it would have failed many years ago, there is no system in place to develop new talent as far as coaches and managers are concerned. Yes, we appoint people to various jobs, but some of those are better at talking about it than doing the job. The last few years have seen various guys over U-21 teams and they have failed badly.
None of them had come through the underage set up and as a result they have gained little experience. Here we are months after Limerick went out of the U-21 championship so badly and still the County Board has not dealt with the outcome of what we saw in Thurles. Why is that? They should have met the management the week after that game and sorted the position for the coming year. The word on the ground is that the County Board was far from happy with what happened in Thurles and if they are to follow past practice based on results then a new manager will be appointed here.
Limerick could and very well might go outside the county for the next manager of the senior team but how long more can we continue to do that? At some stage we will have to start to develop our own managers.
If Limerick feels they have to go outside the county again so be it but those picked in the backroom team need to be men with ambition and skills that can lead Limerick in the future. Selectors play a big part and they need to be able to read the game, some of the best people I know to read a game have never played at the highest level.
It’s also important those appointed to this role go to local club games because we do have players who are not getting a fair crack of the whip and they need to be given a chance to develop at a higher level.
The game is now very demanding and only players of a certain quality will survive. In this regard Limerick will not only need to add new faces but also the way the team prepares and trains will have to move to the next level.
Clare showed us in Croke Park the gap that has taken place and many players were found wanting. If the appointment of the manager is important so too is the appointment of the coach and trainer because in many cases these people set the foundation for winning.
Look at all the good teams in hurling and football and the common factor is that these managers have outstanding backroom systems in place. Limerick need to really get the appointment of the next senior hurling manager right, we don’t need someone who is going to walk away after two years. Limerick hurling hasn’t been and won’t be in the future well served by such actions.
The age profile of players now making it at senior level has dropped substantially in recent years and if lads are good enough then they can’t be held back. In Limerick we have some really good young players and they will have to be promoted to the senior team.
Also we need some joined up thinking from minor, U-21 and senior. We don’t have that at the moment and it needs to be put right. We need to develop the Limerick style of play and there is little point in every team doing something different.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to fix on what type of game we want to play and how we are going to play it but it will require someone getting everyone around the table and having only one priority - how do we develop the full potential of Limerick hurling?
It will require the ego to be left outside the room because we have long suffered from that in Limerick and it hasn’t got us very far. The task facing the group picking the next manager is to pick the best man for Limerick.
We don’t want lads that run 50 meters to stand beside the team for the national anthem. We don’t need lads that are good to talk about it. We need a quality person that has the talent to get the best from players individually and as a group.
The culture of winning is important but we need to ingrain in our players the pride of the jersey. What does it mean to them? What are they prepared to do to be successful? Look at the recent teams that have won in hurling and football and you will understand just how far they are prepared to go as a group to cross the winning line.
This appointment is very important and I do hope Limerick hurling will be well served by the man who eventually gets the nod. In future the Limerick County Board needs to make it very clear to a manager that he has 14 days after Limerick are out of the championship to advise them if he is interested in going forward for another year and not waiting around when quality managers are appointed elsewhere.