‘Dream team’ ratified for two-year Premier post

It’s been rumoured for some time, now it’s official.

At a meeting of the Tipperary county board in Thurles last night Declan Ryan was ratified as the new senior hurling manager for a two-year term, along with Tommy Dunne (coach) and Michael Gleeson (selector), with Kildare-man Cian O’Neill from the University of Limerick remaining on as trainer.

"At this stage it’s not news to anyone," said county chairman Barry O’Brien, in announcing the recommendation of the committee charged with finding a successor to the outgoing Liam Sheedy and his two selectors.

"Three good choices, these are the best men available to us. I’d like to compliment them on their bravery in accepting this position – it’s not easy to take this job on now, with Tipperary at the summit, but all three are full of enthusiasm for the challenge, and I have no doubt they have the ability to successfully carry out this task."

The decision by Liam Sheedy – along with his coach Eamon O’Shea and selector Michael Ryan – to resign, coming as it did just a few weeks after they had guided Tipperary to its first All-Ireland senior success since 2001, took the county completely by surprise.

It left the board with a huge problem, however, and finding a suitable replacement management team was a major challenge. With former All-Ireland-winning manager Nicky English ruling himself out of the equation, this is as close to the Dream Team as they could have got, says chairman O’Brien.

"Well we think so, yes, we’re happy with the outcome. We gave it every consideration and from all those who were available, I don’t think we could have got a better outcome.

"After winning the Liam MacCarthy for the 26th time, there is now a lot of expectation, a lot of pressure; these boys are well aware of that but they are still willing to accept the job."

All three have already tasted managerial success at inter-county level in the past, having guided Tipperary to All-Ireland minor success in 2007, Ryan as manager, Dunne as coach, and Gleeson as selector, along with Liam Cahill.

On that occasion they were also succeeding Liam Sheedy, who had managed the minors to All-Ireland success the previous year.

This, however, is different, much more demanding, as acknowledged by O’Brien: "Everyone we spoke to during the whole process, we asked them to consider this on the basis of their heart, their love for Tipperary, rather than logic – no-one in their right mind would take on a senior inter-county management job these days on the basis of pure logic!

"Once we teased out what we were prepared to do, however, that they’d have the same finances available, the same back-room team, the same back-up across the board as the last management team had got – anything, in fact, that they required to do the job – they were happy to take it on," added O’Brien.

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