Former Tipperary star Eoin Kelly says his former teammate Brendan Cummins would “drop everything” to replace Michael Ryan as manager of the county’s hurlers.
The former All-Star goalkeeper has been highly acclaimed for his work as a co-commentator on The Sunday Game, but Kelly doesn’t see that as an obstacle to him taking the Tipp role, if it was offered.
“The one thing that Brendan Cummins would drop everything for would be the Tipperary manager's job,” Kelly told Paddy Power News.
“He'd definitely take the role if it came his way. He's got a bit of coaching pedigree coming from Kerry and Laois over the last few years. Brendan has been serving his apprenticeship alright.”
Kelly hadn’t expected Ryan to step down, despite a disappointing Munster campaign when Tipp failed to win a game.
“My overriding feeling when I heard that Michael Ryan had stepped down as Tipperary manager was surprise.
For the last few weeks we've seen Michael attend U21 Tipperary games and club matches within the county,
so you thought he was spotting talent for the future to bring in for the next couple of seasons with him in charge.
“The news has had the heads of Tipperary supporters spinning, it was just so unexpected. I suppose Michael Ryan has had time to digest the whole Munster campaign now and he probably went away on holidays.
"Maybe he came to this conclusion after watching the two semi-finals at the weekend because it seemed to be all about power, pace and execution of passing and Tipp didn't look like they were hurling as fluently as some of those teams that were in the last four.
“He could have also just felt it's time for Tipperary to go in a different direction. So, I'm very surprised he's gone, I thought he'd be staying on.”
Kelly paid tribute to the contribution the Upperchurch man has made to the county.
“Out of the last four All-Irelands Tipperary have won, he's been involved in three of them. He was a player in 1991, a selector in 2010 and the manager of the 2016 winning team. It's not as if Tipperary are rolling off All-Ireland's every second or third year either. He's been involved in three of the best days in the counties history over the last 28 seasons.”
Kelly also names William Maher and Liam Cahill among the frontrunners to succeed Ryan.
“William Maher was involved when Tipperary minors won the All-Ireland in 2012 and had previously worked with Dublin minors. Then he worked with Waterford seniors in 2013 and was back as Tipperary U21 manager
in 2016 & 2017 and so has been very close to the Tipperary underage scene over the last few years.
“Liam Cahill led Tipperary to the Minor All-Ireland final in 2015 and came back with them to win it in 2016. I suppose he'll be disappointed with the U21's being beaten well in the Munster final this year, but they gave the county a massive lift the night they beat Limerick in Thurles earlier in the season.
"It energised everybody, so Tipp people are kind of waiting to see how they end their campaign. If Tipperary turn around and win an U21 All-Ireland final, then Liam Cahill's name will be right up there and that's what happens.”
But he doesn’t expect Colm Bonnar to leave his current job with the Carlow hurlers.
“I'd say Colm Bonnar would stay loyal to Carlow because he's already been talking a lot about next year with them. I believe he'll stay where he is.”
As for the return of successful former managers, Kelly insists the Tipperary public would welcome them with open arms.
“The players would love to see Liam Sheedy return. That could be a great outside shot, I'll tell you he's got a huge passion for Tipperary hurling. He's been out of it for a good while now on the punditry side of it and sometimes the grá comes back to patrol those sidelines when you are out that long.
“Nicky English probably won't go for it just now as the timing just isn’t right, but Tipperary supporters would only love to see him back now or in the future and he would be an automatic choice.”
[PaperTalk GAA Podcast: Éamonn Fitzmaurice's box of letters, Clare's regret and Galway's low battery