Sweet success offers Dunne closure after 2012 frustrations

Sweet success offers Dunne closure after 2012 frustrations
Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy, second from left, and coaches, from left, Darragh Egan, Eamon O’Shea, and Tommy Dunne, celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Seven years on, Sunday finally put a seal on the anguish for Tommy Dunne.

As coach with Declan Ryan in 2012, that 18-point All- Ireland semi-final hammering by Kilkenny was as painful as it was unexpected.

The post-mortem in the county was brutal.

Ryan and Dunne were skewered for the Lar Corbett tactic of following Tommy Walsh and coming a year on from their narrow final defeat to the Cats, they felt they had no option but to step down.

“They were tough,” Dunne recalls of those defeats. “It (Sunday’s win) closes a little bit for me, from a coaching point of view.

In sport, there are always ups and downs. Those were tough days, particularly 2012 and all that went with it.

“Declan Ryan is a really great friend of mine. A Tipperary icon in so many ways. They were tough days. So to get an opportunity to come back and be on the sideline when Tipp win an All-Ireland is a very special feeling.

“It did cross my mind a few times yesterday (Sunday), particularly after the match, that it has been a bit of journey from that time to this. It’s a nice feeling now.”

So hurt was Ryan by the reaction to the 2012 semi-final that he doesn’t attend Tipperary games as regulary as he used to.

Dunne can’t speak for his friend but he knows how the fallout from that game affected him. 

“It left a heavy imprint for a long time.”

Hailed by Babs Keating this year as the best Tipperary centre-forward of the last 50 years, Ryan’s feat as manager of leading Tipperary to back-to-back Munster titles with Dunne has been overlooked.

Asked if history will be kinder to Ryan the manager, Dunne replied: “I’ve no doubt history will be kinder to him. Why wouldn’t it? Absolutely.”

After leading Tipperary to a Munster minor title last year, Dunne was one of Liam Sheedy’s first appointments 10 months ago, Eamon O’Shea being his last in February of this year.

The 2001 All-Ireland- winning captain explains how the arrangement worked: “I wasn’t really head coach. It is a kind of unique coaching environment. 

"Well, maybe it’s not unique but Liam is a very hands-on coach. Darragh (Egan) is a hands-on coach as well. 

"Myself and Darragh did most of the coaching in the pre-season and after Christmas, and then Eamon came in. 

"Eamon has a very strong connection with Liam over many years so it was a terrific boost for us all to see him coming in.

We just kind of let it flow and felt it out among ourselves. The dynamic and chemistry was good from the very start.

“It all comes down to whether your players are getting value from your input as a coach and you measure from there.”

Returning to the role of maor foirne seven years on was an eye-opener for Dunne, who seems to suggest the runner is a role that has to be reviewed. 

“It is interesting because it has been a while since I was on the line with the senior team.

“On the big days, it is important because of the noise factor in the stadium, it is the only way to get messages in.

“The pitch is for the players, it is not for the maor foirne. I don’t want to be on the pitch and loads of other maor foirnes will say the same. 

"And I think it is important that we be careful in terms of how we respect that. It mightn’t always seem the case, but it is something we have to be very careful of.”

What Dunne is especially keen on is referees in light of some questionable decisions this summer, such as in the Tipperary-Wexford All-Ireland semi-final. 

Something like a video review could be trialled where possible in the league, he feels.

Picture: Inpho
Picture: Inpho

“We all understand the refereeing situation and how difficult it is, it is very, very difficult. The Wexford game was a bizarre game, there is no point in saying otherwise. 

"And you have to take it on the chin. Some days, the decisions fall your way. Other days, they don’t.

“Officials try to do the best they can. And it is impossible to get everything right, it really is. 

"But it is certainly time to look at giving them the support, the functional support, that can make a difference to them, so they have eight or nine out of 10 rated games as opposed to decisions that are going wrong and that they are costing games to teams. 

"I am not saying it will ever be a 100% but surely it can be closer to 100 than it is now.

“I think there has to be a technical component to it, where they can look at the decision on a replay and make the decision based on that. 

"Something like that. Having to make an off-the-cuff decision on something they may not have seen is madness in ways.”

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