FORMER Limerick hurling manager Richie Bennis believes current boss Justin McCarthy must take a huge chunk of blame for the crisis which has gripped the county.
Bennis has broken his silence on the bitter dispute which will see the Shannonsiders enter the 2010 season without a host of big names who have vowed never to hurl again under McCarthy.
County board officials are set to write to eight disillusioned stars, including goalkeeper Brian Murray, former captain Damien Reale, midfielder Donal O’Grady and the versatile Seamus Hickey, in an attempt to coax them back.
But Bennis believes the players are not for turning and sources close to them have insisted that the chances of wearing the county jersey again while McCarthy is in charge are “zero”.
Bennis also pointed an accusing finger at the county board and revealed that the team didn’t know the venue for the 2008 championship game which signalled the end of his reign until 11am on the day of the game.
Bennis, who was sacked in August 2008, said: “I can’t see the players that he discarded or that were picked for trial matches coming back to play for him.
“And it would be no good if he was there for 12 months and then walks away. He won’t have to account for anything then because he’s living down in Passage.
“My belief is that he should go or be given four years to bring in a new bunch and put his stamp on it.
“He started the mess and if he maintains it, it’s up to him to clear it up.
“Let’s be realistic, the same thing happened in 1997, when Tom Ryan won the league. A man (Eamonn Cregan) was put in his place and got rid of seven of the best players in Limerick. It set us back ten years.”
Bennis insisted that McCarthy has handled the current situation badly, explaining: “Their (players) gripe with Justin is that he picked two trial teams and never notified the players that he was resting them or whatever.
“If I was a player, I’d read into that I was dropped but the situation was governed by rule because the 2009 panel couldn’t train in November or December so he was covered.
“All he had to say was that he was trying new players and I wouldn’t be in disagreement with that.
Bennis lost his job as Limerick boss over 16 months ago, less than a year after guiding the team to the 2007 All-Ireland final.
And he has now revealed: “We have a very weak county board. The last year that I was involved (2008), we were due to play Offaly in the qualifiers but at 11am that morning, we didn’t know where the match was being played. There was a Munster final (Tipperary v Clare) fixed for the following day at the Gaelic Grounds and we had to wait for the Munster Council representative to come in and check the pitch to see if it was capable of taking two matches. There were talks of us playing in Kilmallock but we didn’t accept that.
“We had no place to train some nights before that either.
” We used to arrive up to Kilmallock to find an under-age match going on and then we had to text the players maybe an hour before the session to tell them to go somewhere else.
“We went to the All-Ireland final in 2007 without a county board. Jimmy Hartigan had resigned as secretary and Denis Holmes (former chairman) was due to pull out at the end of the year.
“The two of them were at loggerheads, not even talking, so where are you going? I arranged hotels and training pitches and where to warm up before matches.
“That shouldn’t have been part of my remit – I was in it for hurling, not for managing side issues.”
Meanwhile, Justin McCarthy, has added to his back room team by appointing John Tuohy as a selector.
Tuohy is a very well respected coach having managed Bruree to a Senior Hurling title some years ago. A teacher by profession, Tuohy comes from Patrickswell.
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