Limerick County Board call emergency meeting following O’Grady departure
TJ Ryan left to take the reins alone as his co-manager steps down
Outgoing Limerick co-manager Donal O’Grady leaves TJ Ryan as the sole man in charge of the county. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.
Officials of the Limerick County Board were called into an emergency meeting last night in an effort to address the sudden resignation of hurling co-manager Donal O’Grady. Although if O’Grady is to be believed they only have themselves to blame.
Whatever happens next will almost certainly come too late to reverse O’Grady’s decision, which has plunged Limerick hurling into a worrying state of disrepair less than six weeks before their Munster championship semi-final against Tipperary on June 1st. Existing co-manager TJ Ryan is still set to continue in his role, presumably now as sole manager, although for exactly how long remains to be seen.
Details of O’Grady’s resignation emerged yesterday, after a clearly awkward sequence of events, and indeed statements, following a meeting of the Limerick County Board: this included comments attributed to county board secretary Mike O’Riordan, which claimed both O’Grady and Ryan “basically apologised for the performance against Offaly” in a recent league game, those same comments then widely reported to be have been aired at a subsequent county board meeting.
O’Grady doesn’t deny an earlier meeting with the county board, in Rathkeale, as would be expected after the culmination of any league campaign – which in this case saw Limerick fail to get promotion to the top flight for the fifth successive year. However, O’Grady did take serious issue with both the content and nature of comments attributed to that meeting, which he said left him with “no other option but to step down forthwith from his position of coach and co-manager”.
Speaking ahead of last night’s board meeting, county press officer Eamonn Phelan confirmed that O’Grady’s decision to resign had been noted, and that “as of now” he was indeed gone from the position. However, it remains to be seen whether a retraction of those county board comments might yet convince O’Grady to return.
Still, there was nothing in O’Grady’s resignation to suggest any pending change of heart: “Limerick hurling co-managers TJ Ryan and Donal O’Grady sought an immediate meeting with county board officers when certain statements at a recent board meeting appeared in the press,” O’Grady claimed, when outlining the reasons behind his resignation.
Appalled and alarmed
“One such statement informed the meeting that the co-managers ‘apologised for the abysmal’ displays during the league at a previous league review meeting. This statement was simply untrue. Furthermore the co-managers were appalled and alarmed that such statements would be made as they completely undermined the efforts of the players who had worked tremendously hard over the winter to advance the cause of Limerick senior hurling.”
O’Grady then claimed that both he and Ryan sought “a retraction of the ‘apology’ statement”, as county board chairman, Oliver Mann, had also admitted “without issue, that no apology was ever tendered to the officers by the management”. As a result, it was reportedly decided to issue a statement on the Limerick GAA website the following day withdrawing the untrue statement, while clarifying others, but again, according to O’Grady, “this did not happen”.
It then being 10 days after the county board meeting, and given that “no clarifications and no retraction of the untrue statement have been made public as agreed” O’Grady announced his decision to resign, while noting that Ryan “will continue in his managerial role in the interim, in the interests of continuity.”
It all makes for a clearly messy situation for the Limerick county board, who originally looked to have pulled off something special when convincing O’Grady to come back on board for two seasons, having previously managed Limerick on an interim basis in 2011: O’Grady, who managed his native Cork to All-Ireland victory over Kilkenny in 2004, had come in after the controversial reign of Justin McCarthy ended in the summer of 2010, and O’Grady’s hand in settling that situation was widely acknowledged at the time. He was subsequently replaced by John Allen, his former selector and fellow All-Ireland winning manager with Cork, although Allen held the position for just two years, stepping down last summer despite leading Limerick to a first Munster title since 1996.
Another comment attributed to the meeting between Limerick officials and their co-managers, earlier this month, was that of the county chairman, Mann, who claimed “we have to get behind the team and management because we don’t have any other choice” but who also acknowledged that he was “happy that they (O’Grady and Ryan) are going to make every effort, a superhuman effort, to turn things around”.
For now, it seems, it’s up to Ryan alone to make that superhuman effort.