Former All-Ireland winning Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy has admitted that the county isn’t much good at holding onto titles and that there are “scars” attached to their poor record.
Tipperary haven’t won back to back All-Irelands since 1965 and their most recent failure to hold onto the MacCarthy Cup came in 2011, following the 2010 triumph under Sheedy.
The Portroe man, who stepped down shortly after that 2010 win, said that just one more championship triumph since then is a “poor return” for such a talented group of players.
He is optimistic Michael Ryan’s panel can break the mould this year and described the various new options that have been uncovered during the run to Sunday’s league decider as a “dreamland” scenario for management.
“Look, if you go back through the last number of years, they’ve probably been close to getting a few more [All-Irelands], so the return of one over the last six years is a poor return, I would say, based on the talent that they have had at their disposal,” said Sheedy.
“There’s a few years it got away on them, Hawk-Eye in 2014, and one or two other things. The margins were really, really tight, but they just seemed to come up that little bit short.
“I certainly got the sense last year after they won the All-Ireland final that they looked more calculated, that they seemed like a bunch that weren’t happy to win just one.
“I think they see what Kilkenny have done over the last number of years and the way they’ve dominated the sport and I certainly feel there’s a drive within this group to try to put it back-to-back.”
Sheedy acknowledged that while Kilkenny were still flying high in 2011 and 2014, when they beat Tipp in finals, there is no such dominant rival for Tipp to contend with this year.
However, he was quick to urge caution also and noted the county’s poor record at defending All-Ireland titles.
“Going back to the last time we put it back-to-back, it’s the 60s, so I don’t think anyone is under any illusions here; we’re not a county that does back to back very well,” he said. “So, the scars are there for everyone to see in that regard. We have a habit of going to sleep after we get one. So, I think there’ll be an awareness of that within the county.”
Sheedy shrugged when asked why a county of Tipp’s rich tradition hasn’t won back-to-back titles in over 50 years. Kilkenny, Galway, and Cork have all achieved at least a two-in-a-row in that period.
“Well look, irrespective of what the tradition is from back in the 60s in Tipperary, the reality is that we were only winning one in 10 since then and that’s the harsh reality, but I think this group are hell bent on looking to change that. I think it can be used as a real driving force for the squad,” he said.
Sheedy was in charge of Tipp when they won their last Allianz League title, nine years ago. It may be a good omen that they beat Galway at the time and went on to even greater achievements in the subsequent years. That was Sheedy’s first year in charge and they reached an All- Ireland semi-final in 2008, a final in 2009, and won the championship in 2010.
“Oh it was massive, massive,” said Sheedy of the 2008 league win. “We would have seen over the years, and at that time for sure, that the winners of the league were performing very well in the championship. We didn’t see any reason why you wouldn’t try to perform well in the league and why it wouldn’t then stand to you in the championship.
“It was definitely the one that catapulted us. It was a cracking game inside in the Gaelic Grounds, as well. Ger Loughnane was over Galway and they were being built up.
“We just got the better of them, got a few goals and we were hanging on in the end for a two-point victory.”
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