DONAL O’GRADY’S appointment as Limerick senior hurling boss was last night unanimously ratified by club delegates at a specially arranged board meeting with county chairman Liam Lenihan urging everyone in the county ‘to give unconditional support’ to the new manager and also claiming that ‘the day for agendas was gone’.
At a meeting in the Claughaun club in the city which lasted just under 15 minutes, Lenihan began by reading out an official report from the Independent Appointments Committee of Damien Quigley, Paudie Fitzmaurice and Jim Woulfe which detailed the process that led to O’Grady’s appointment.
Lenihan then revealed the management committee of the Limerick County Board had endorsed their recommendation of the former Cork All-Ireland winning boss and his proposal to rubberstamp O’Grady’s appointment was unanimously backed by the club delegates in attendance.
Former Limerick greats Ciaran Carey (Patrickswell), TJ Ryan (Garryspillane) and Pat Heffernan (Blackrock) were confirmed as selectors.
Afterwards Lenihan insisted he does not envisage problems for O’Grady in blending members of the 2009 Limerick panel, the majority of whom refused to play under Justin McCarthy last season, and the new-look 2010 panel into one squad for the 2011 campaign. Lenihan also believes that hurling supporters in the county will return in numbers next season.
“I don’t think it’ll be as big a problem as people think. Donal O’Grady has been interviewed and has said that there’s no panel at present. He will obviously consider anyone who wants to hurl for Limerick, be they from 2009 or 2010. I feel confident that Donal O’Grady and his management team will be able to gel those two panels together.
“The one thing I would ask is for everyone to give unconditional support to Donal O’Grady and his Limerick team. The day of having our own agendas is gone, it’s our only chance of moving forward. My message to supporters is be positive, go out and support Limerick, whatever team is on the field. We need to send that positive message out about Limerick hurling.
“Patience is very important. There’s no such thing as automatic success. You’ve got to plan and work hard. The objective will be to get out of Division 2 in the National League, and be competitive in the Munster championship and then in the All-Ireland series.”
O’Grady has only committed to the Limerick job for 12 months but Lenihan revealed that the situation will be reviewed and he believes the three selectors working with O’Grady will be groomed to assume the managerial reins in future.
“At the end of next year Donal will give his assessment and the county board will give their assessment. We didn’t go into looking beyond next year. He said he’d take it for 12 months, give it his best shot and we’ll see after that. All focus now is on 2011. The appointments committee felt that the three selectors would be very suitable people to come on board.
“They have talked about continuity and obviously working with a man like Donal O’Grady will be a great experience for those people. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them and they are prime examples for the future. I know Ciaran Carey managed our U21 team in Limerick in 2008, TJ Ryan has managed his own club team and Pat Heffernan has also managed a number of teams.”
Lenihan praised the work of the Independent Appointments Committee and admitted that there is a strong template there for how to handle future appointments, despite some discontent in the county as the length of time this process took to complete.
“I could envisage it being used again. It worked well this time. The general feedback around the county was positive. Some people were impatient about the amount of time it took. But I didn’t want them to rush it and I was delighted with the name they came up with in Donal O’Grady. They gave a very comprehensive report and I think they met nearly 36 times. That is great considering they are three busy people. I’d like to thank them for their work. I was very happy with the backing from delegates tonight as well. That was important. We don’t need dissension.”
When asked for what lessons were to be learnt from the controversial last twelve months of Justin McCarthy’s reign, Lenihan insisted it was time to look forward.
“It was a tough year but it’s in the past now. I know history is important and we can look back, but it’s about today and tomorrow and going forward. I never said a bad word about Justin McCarthy. No one can question his hurling pedigree, or that of those around him like Brian Ryan, Liam Garvey, John Tuohy and Dave Mahedy. “It’s the start of a new era and we’re all looking forward to 2011. I think we’ve a very good manager in Donal O’Grady. I don’t think anyone could question his pedigree, his coaching skills and his management skills.
“It’s upwards and onwards from here on in.”
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