Liam Sheedy has again attempted to dispel the theory he has a disciplinary issue to address after reclaiming the reins of Tipperary’s senior hurlers and he admitted the team needs to get the county back on side.
Speaking to RTÉ and Newstalk upon his appointment last week, the 2010 All-Ireland-winning hurling manager made it clear he had no major disciplinary situation to address in his three previous seasons in charge.
In an interview with local media, including the Nenagh Guardian, Sheedy again addressed the matter.
“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.”
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An alleged incident in Thurles following the U21s’ All-Ireland success suggested indiscipline remains an issue in the county. Sheedy did not speak of that, but made it clear inter-county players have to give good accounts of themselves off the field.
“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.”
Sheedy acknowledges the team and the Tipperary people need to reconnect.
“The one thing I will say: If you ask me what would concern me, I do think we need to win back the public. Our crowds have dwindled in most matches that I went to last year. Tipp were outnumbered time and time and time again, home or away.
“That’s something that I will be looking at and, from the first time we take to the pitch, I will be looking to get a team together that the county will follow, because I do think back the last time, by the time we got to the end of the term, that team was being followed and I think it is really important that the county and all the supporters come in behind the team.
“We all know the work and effort that these guys put in and to be going out Sunday after Sunday and being outnumbered is something that we should not be proud of and certainly that’s one thing I will be doing: Trying to create a team that’s worth following.”
Sheedy is already considering his team for next year’s championship.
He warned he won’t give up as much time for the clubs in April, believing it led to the team being leggy going into this year’s Munster SHC.
“I was at congress, where the big hullabaloo was made, but the reality is 22 of the 32 counties totally ignored the blueprint and there was no consequences for them whatsoever, so there is no point in us being one of the 10 that say, ‘yes, we’ll play by the rules’, while everyone else decides to go and do their own thing and run meaningless club games, where ultimately their championship players aren’t being played anyway.
“I have no problem, but we need to wise up a small bit and make sure it is a level playing field, because anything other than that is unfair, because we (Tipp) went and did it right, others decided they wouldn’t bother and would take the law into their own hands with no consequences at the back of it. We just need to be clear that we are not impeding ourselves by doing it a certain way and then coming up against a certain team that was way, way fresher when you face off.
“The one thing we learned last year is that your first game is important in the championship, because of getting off to a good start and we all know what our record is like when it comes to playing championship matches in Cork, that’s a massive massive battle. The last time I won down there was the first time in 83 years, so we are not regulars on the podium down there, so we have to make sure that we time that right, so that the players can be the best version of themselves on that day.”
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.