We've had our ups and downs but I still think Eddie O'Sullivan is a good fit for Connacht
FROM THE BLINDSIDE:I really don’t know why the former Ireland coach is being ignored, writes ALAN QUINLAN
When any club in any sport is appointing a new manager, the one thing they need is for it to go smoothly. Even if the process takes a while, you can say you’re just making sure you appoint the right man. What you can’t afford is to look like you’re having difficulty in getting who you want or to have people think that you’re ignoring somebody who is an obvious fit. All you’re doing there is making life difficult for whoever it is that eventually gets the job. Unfortunately, Connacht are now in the position where both these things are the case.
First off, it’s very bad form for Sean Holley to come out and say he’s turned the job down. What was he doing going for it if he didn’t want it? Now it’s just an embarrassment to Connacht that he has publicly said it’s not for him. Connacht should have either locked him down or made him keep the whole thing to himself.
On its own, the Holley thing looks bad enough for Connacht. But alongside it, there’s the Eddie O’Sullivan issue. Here’s a guy with more experience than Holley, an Irish coach who only lives half an hour away who is keen on getting involved. Yet he doesn’t even get so much as a foot in the door for an interview. The truth is, he’d probably have a far better chance if he sent in his CV with no name on the top of it.
Ups and downs
I played under Eddie for Ireland on and off for five or six years. By the end, I got on very well with him but it took us a long time to get there. Most players had their ups and downs with him. Me, I had downs and downs. From the start, he didn’t really understand me and I didn’t really understand him. I wasn’t one of the main players in the squad and that made him very hard to get to know.
I was coming from a provincial environment where there was an intimacy between the head coach and the players that got the best out of me.
Declan Kidney was as much a mentor to me as a coach, whereas Eddie was a guy who you were a bit wary of when you met him. He was all about discipline and the gameplan. It wasn’t his style to go for the personal touch.
In the beginning, I didn’t have any great problem with that. Every coach has a different approach and I respected the way he went about things. You could see that he was an excellent coach with a phenomenal rugby brain. If players needed somebody who they could talk to, we had Declan and Niall O’Donovan there. I was totally comfortable with both of them so it wasn’t such a big deal that Eddie kept his distance and concentrated on the rugby.
It became clear fairly early on though that he had a problem with me. Looking back, I can see why. I wasn’t the easiest player to coach, not the way Eddie liked to coach. He wanted players to really focus for every minute of training. He didn’t like players trying too many things off the cuff and he really didn’t have time for lads who wanted to mess about a bit. He wanted players who were robotic in a way and who would learn his gameplan and carry it out to the letter.