The quiet man helping put the gloss on Tipp

THE difference between being a manager and being a selector?

Quantum, says Michael Gleeson, and ‘Glossy’ (as he’s better known in Thurles) would know. In 2009 and 2010, he was manager of the Thurles Sarsfields team that won the Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship, a feat that storied club hadn’t achieved since the 60s. This year he’s one of Declan Ryan’s backroom team, part of the new Tipperary management which will be attempting to guide the Premier County to do something it hasn’t managed since the 60s, andretain the All-Ireland title.

“There’s a big difference,” says Gleeson of his new role. “I think there’s an awful lot more responsibility with the manager, he has an awful lot of more work to do.

“Apart from just being involved with the team, he has dealings with the county board, with the supporters’ club — a huge amount of things away from the hurling itself. The selector is purely involved with preparing the team and picking the team so there’s a complete difference.”

A much reduced workload then for Gleeson, especially with Tommy Dunne — the third selector — doing the coaching. “We all row in behind one another — I wouldn’t say there’s a demarcation line there that you can’t cross but we support one another.

“We all know what our roles are. Declan’s the manager, Tommy’s the coach and I’m a selector but having said that, in regards to preparing the team, we all roll up the sleeves.”

Often in those situations that third member of the triumvirate, the guy with the least hands-on role, would be the go-between, the shoulder for dropped/disgruntled/disappointed players to cry on — the good cop, if you like, to negate the barking orders of the other two.

And the soft-spoken Michael would be that perfect foil.

“Thankfully we haven’t come across that role yet!” he says, before elaborating: “I would say Declan has performed that role.

“Declan makes the team announcements so he would talkprivately to the guys who mightn’t get a jersey or who mightn’t be starting. That’s the position, if guys findthemselves wanting to say something they can speak first-hand to Declan.”

Gleeson added: “I would say that the camp is quite happy. We do a few things outside of normal training, bonding and such, and I think that definitely helps. There’s a good mood in the camp.”

They do use outside help, however, qualified outside help. “Occasionally we would call on a sportspsychologist, Enda McNulty (former Armagh All-Ireland winning footballer). He’s excellent, a great man to know his role — he’s not imposing. He’s not somebody that’s there on a regular basis but turns up occasionally and speaks to them as a group or he’s available individually if they want to talk to him — they all have his number. He’d come down maybe every fortnight. He’d get involved in the training as well, physically as well as mentally.”

So far so good, then, for Tipperary as they head into Sunday’s Munster semi-final against Clare, in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds. The omens are good too, because as a team they’ve already enjoyed success, albeit at a lower level. “I was involved with Tommy and Declan with the minors in 2007 and 2008 and we were fortunate enough to win the minors in ‘07, though we were beaten in ‘08, in the All-Ireland semi-final by Kilkenny and also beaten in the Munster final by Cork. “This is a new experience but having said that, we also recognise the challenge that’s ahead of us. While it’s nice to be enjoying it, it’s easier to enjoy it when you’re winning.”


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