Liam Kearns expects to remain in charge of the Tipperary senior footballers next year — “assuming everything is as it should be.”
The former Limerick and Laois supremo has completed the first of a two-year term and he achieved incredible success in 2016 when guiding the Premier County to a first All-Ireland SFC semi-final in 81 years.
But Kearns also admitted that departing team captain Peter Acheson, who is going to Dubai, will be difficult to replace and he remains hopeful that his absence is more of a short-term situation rather than indefinite.
Kearns will now seek certain assurances from football board and county board officials when he meets with them — and he’ll also gauge the long-term commitment of his potential panel members ahead of next year’s campaign.
Kearns was disappointed to lose Kevin Fahey, Jason Lonergan, and Liam Casey to the US for the summer months and is anxious to ensure that a similar situation does not arise again.
Kearns said: “I’m going to sit down with all the stakeholders and we’ll have a frank discussion about how this year has gone and review it.
“Then we’ll look at next year. I have a two-year contract anyway — I’m supposed to stay on for another year at least. Obviously this year has only just ended so I want to take stock and look at everything from all sides. I’ve also got to talk to the players and see what the commitment is from their side.
“All of that will have to be done over the course of time. But I would expect that I would stay on — assuming everything is as it should be.”
The Kerry native also confirmed he was aware of Acheson’s travel plans midway through the season but managed to convince his inspirational skipper to stay for the remainder of it.
He said: “We were aware of Achey’s plans halfway through the season. We managed to convince him to put them off until such time as we finished our involvement in the championship.
“We’re very grateful to Achey for his commitment to Tipperary football and for the fact that he did that, and he gave us a fantastic campaign this year. Nobody can question his commitment – when you play with a broken hand in an All-Ireland semi-final and play the way he played, there’s not too many men could do that.
“He doesn’t owe Tipperary football or anybody anything really but he’s 26, he’s at the peak of his powers.
“You can’t replace the likes of him too easily so we are very hopeful that he will come back, preferably short-term but even if lost him for a year or two, you would hope he would come back and play for Tipperary again because it’s hard to see us winning an All-Ireland or an All-Ireland semi-final without Peter Acheson involved in it. He’s an integral part of it.”
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