DONAL O’GRADY last night spoke of the ‘talent and potential’ in Limerick hurling as he bids to restore the fortunes of a county rocked by controversy in 2010.
However O’Grady insisted he has taken the post for one year in an effort to help rebuild structures in Limerick and that ‘they’ll be able to sail the ship themselves next year’.
O’Grady and his high profile management team of Ciarán Carey, TJ Ryan and Pat Heffernan, are set to ratified at a specially convened meeting of Limerick County Board in Claghaun tonight.
The move brings an end to a miserable chapter in the county’s GAA history when the majority of the 2009 senior panel refused to play under former boss Justin McCarthy.
And former All-Ireland winning manager O’Grady insists recent history will have no role to play when he takes charge. He explained: “At this moment no panel exists. Any player who makes himself available will be considered for selection. That is the only sensible way to look at it. Anyone willing to put the shoulder to the wheel will be considered.”
He added: “The agreement we have is that I will have the job for a year. There’s talent there and there’s potential there. My feeling is that there is enough managerial talent in Limerick but they felt they needed a little bit of stability after the last couple of years. Maybe I was approached because I had come in after the Cork strike a few years ago.
“What they wanted was Limerick people to be directing the ship but they wanted the experience brought in first to put structures in place that they could carry on themselves.”
O’Grady explained the reasons behind his decision to return to inter-county action after a six-year break.
He said: “The thing that enthuses me is not so much the management but the coaching. It is work that I always loved no matter what team I was working with. Man management and putting systems in place is something that I get great satisfaction from and has a certain appeal. If the small things are right, the big things will look after themselves. There’s a pyramid and the base has to be strong. You have to have things right at the foundation with training and logistics. They’re the things that maybe were missing, I won’t know until I go in but that’s the impression I’ve been given and that will be my role.”
He refused to set any targets for 2011, stating that his only goal would be to get the best players operating at their highest possible levels for Limerick.
He told RTÉ Raidio na Gaeltachta’s Saol ó Dheas: “The most important thing will be to get to know the players and to put together the strongest panel possible. My outlook has always been to take it from there. I’ve never been one for setting targets; to win this or that. The one aim I always have is to get the potential of the players out of them and you can’t do more than that.”
Limerick GAA chiefs also hope to have a new football boss in place by week’s end. Maurice Horan and former Tipperary manager Tom McGlinchey are the front runners to replace Mickey Ned O’Sullivan.
Meanwhile another All-Ireland winning manager, Tyrone’s Mickey Harte expects retirements ahead of next season. The nucleus of the side which has won three All-Ireland titles in the past eight years is made up of the All-Ireland winning minor team of 1998, and those players will have turned 30 by next year.
“There may be some who would have been in the squad this year who won’t be there next year,” said Harte.
Skipper Brian Dooher will be 36 by next summer, but Harte would not be drawn on whether he expects the Clan na nGael man to return for a 16th season in the county colours
“As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing to tell there,” he said. Harte is currently holding discussions with all his squad members, talking to each one individually at separate meetings.
Along with assistant manager Tony Donnelly and trainer Fergal McCann, he has been discussing the strategy for 2011 and a fresh challenge for Sam Maguire Cup success.
“We’re meeting with them individually, and that process is not entirely complete yet. It’s ongoing. We did meet the squad originally, after the game (the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Dublin), and then we decided we’d meet them all individually in the next few weeks. There’s a lot of planning in it, getting a time that suits ourselves and them individually, and the time it takes, but I think it’s something that’s important and worth doing.
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