‘Mick has given up his whole life to Tipperary’

Tipperary say Michael Ryan will continue as manager until the conclusion of the 2020 championship after the county board yesterday threw their support behind the embattled Premier boss.

And former captain Conor O’Mahony says the speculation within the county this week about Ryan’s future “wasn’t right”.

Having failed to win a single round-robin fixture in Munster, Tipperary made their earliest departure from the championship since 1998.

West Tipperary chairman John O’Shea told the Irish Examiner earlier this week that Ryan and his backroom team of Declan Fanning, John Madden and Conor Stakelum should step down after a disastrous Munster campaign — draws against Cork and a depleted Waterford were bookended by defeat away to Limerick and a first championship defeat to Clare in Semple Stadium in 90 years.

The county board, who appointed Ryan ahead of the 2016 season and last September extended his term by three years, ended their silence yesterday, issuing a statement in support of management.

The statement read: “In respect to recent queries, the management committee of Tipperary GAA County Board wishes to reiterate that following Tipperary’s exit from this year’s senior hurling championship, the position of the Tipperary management team is not the subject of any discussion or change. The management team was appointed last September for a three-year term and have the full backing and support of the county management committee.

“Comments made by any individual(s), contrary to the above, do not represent the views of the county management committee and are therefore not to be associated with the committee or county board officers in any way.

“There will be no further comment in relation to this.”

Two-time All-Star O’Mahony, who won an All-Ireland medal in 2010 and captained the side in the 2009 final, was disappointed to see public dissent around the manager’s position.

“I think that was a bit drastic two days after getting knocked out of the championship. I don’t think it was the right thing to do. Mick will decide himself. And he’s entitled to decide himself at this stage whether he stays for another year or if he decides to move on.”

“Mick will do what he feels is best for the players and Tipperary hurling. He always has and he always will. I don’t think anyone needs to start coming out and lambasting the management. He’s given up his whole life to Tipperary and he’ll do what needs to be done for Tipperary, for the best of the guys and for Tipp.”

Recovering from an ankle injury and in a race to be fit to play for Newport this season, Tipp’s exit didn’t suit O’Mahony’s own purposes, with the club campaign now likely to restart sooner. But having attending Sunday’s dramatic exit at Semple Stadium, he was most disappointed for former teammates who now face a long year of regret.

“There will be a lot of negativity around. The players themselves will take responsibility, they won’t be looking to blame anyone else. They know themselves that they didn’t perform in three out of the four games. They got four chances, it wasn’t good enough. Nobody will need to tell them, they’ll have a difficult week.

“But they’ve showed over the years they are great characters. They’ll get on with it. They’ll take it harder than any supporter. We’re all annoyed and frustrated but the players will be twice as frustrated. They’ll just have to take it on the chin and get back with their clubs and drive on again.”

He accepts it happened during his time with the county too, but O’Mahony was most concerned with Tipp’s lack of energy during the Munster campaign.

“That’ll be the frustrating thing for Mick, the management and the players. Why were we flat for 20/25 minutes of games? That’s what’ll frustrate everyone, the players and the management. They’ll have to sit down and review it with everyone, the players, the strength and conditioning coaches.

“You couldn’t fault the guys’ heart and determination, all that was there in abundance. Just the energy levels at times seemed to be down. Or was it lack of confidence carrying over from league final, that would have hurt them.

“Did we go too early in the league? Did we play too many club championship matches? Everything will have to be reassessed, but they have time now anyway.”

Having operated in both defensive lines for Tipp, O’Mahony feels it’s “too easy” to blame their problems on the full-back line, which was constantly changed through the campaign.

“Some of the guys who played there during the year will be disappointed with their performances. But still it’s more of a collective thing. We had problems there but a lot of that would stem from out the field.”

He has noted the criticism that Tipperary’s style has become too direct since Eamon O’Shea’s time as manager, but points out they achieved a perfect balance under Michael Ryan in 2016.

“Eamon was more into movement, but you can look at it both ways. Kilkenny, up to two years ago, were constantly going direct, and it was never an issue. But if you have the likes of Jason Forde and John McGrath inside and you can play the ball in front of them, a 30-yard pass, it’s an advantage to any forward.

“But you also have Seamie (Callanan) at the edge of the square, he’s well able to win the ball. It’s getting the balance. At times this year, we probably went long more than we should have. Getting that balance is key.”


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