The perils of being a manager/coach were evident last week with two high profile departures. Much has been written and said about the goings-on in Manchester and the sacking of a man just 10 months into the job, writes Nickey Brennan.
In the world of professional football success is measured in results and that, ultimately, dictates the financial well-being of any club, especially those in the Premiership.
The fall from grace is usually eased by the scale of the compensation, but I imagine the sense of failure and personal hurt must be immense.
On Sunday week in the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, T.J. Ryan and Donal O’Grady sat in front of me watching the League semi-finals. They appeared focused on the games, especially the second semi-final between Tipperary and Clare.
Hardly surprising as Limerick face Tipperary in the opening round of the Munster championship in a couple of weeks. Both would have left the Gaelic Grounds clear in the knowledge that Limerick’s grip on the Munster crown would face a stern test.
We now know that while T.J. Ryan will man the sideline against Tipp, Donal O’Grady will be elsewhere, maybe even in a TV studio talking about that game.
O’Grady’s decision to step down took many by surprise, but given Limerick’s managerial history it now looks like another case of the Shannonsiders shooting themselves in the foot.
Limerick had a disappointing League and will play in Division 1B again next year. But there are mitigating circumstances why Limerick failed to gain promotion. I have sympathy with the two mentors in this regard.
Aside from a raft of injuries, they also had to field without the Na Piarsaigh players who were on club championship duty. Such players are not easily replaced.
The Limerick County Board was not as understanding and its public expression of disappointment at the failure to gain League promotion clearly upset Ryan and O’Grady. The Limerick officials are well aware that the financial rewards are better in Division 1A than 1B. So too is the overall standard of hurling.
While one can understand the disappointment at missing promotion, the manner in which their views were made public clearly irked Ryan and O’Grady. Given the well known history of Limerick and its team managers, it must surely have dawned on the ’Board that making a public issue of their displeasure would have implications.
Even after the comments went public, there probably was time to redeem the situation. How that did not happen surprises me. On reflection the Limerick County Board may feel it might have handled the situation differently, especially with the first round of the Munster championship looming.
While one can understand the annoyance of Ryan and O’Grady, the team mentors should have given greater consideration to the impact all this was having on the players. Ryan is Limerick to the core and decided to stick around.
O’Grady thought differently and quit, leaving Limerick with yet another managerial catastrophe. His relationship with the County Board had reached rock-bottom, but he should have given more thought to the players who had stood by him.
I imagine training was well advanced for the Tipperary game and Limerick was starting to look a lot more like the side that was worthy winners in Munster last year. With T.J. Ryan now assuming the sole managerial role all the focus will be on the Tipp game. O’Grady’s departure can work in either of two ways.
It will either leave the players disillusioned and mentally weak, or all the talk of a poor League will galvanise them to a mighty effort. Limerick brought great glamour and excitement to hurling last year. I hope recent events will not affect the efforts of the players in this year’s championship.