Doyle says McGeeney a plus for Tipp hurlers

Recently retired Kildare star believes the former Lilywhite manager still has plenty to offer any team he mentors

There is a wonder about the chain of reaction initiated by Kildare clubs when they voted Kieran McGeeney out of his managerial post last winter.

Take it back further to July. Tyrone had just journeyed down to Newbridge and given them what they undoubtedly deserved after the ineptitude of their opening 35 minutes.

Immediately afterwards Johnny Doyle was asked if he would return for a 15th season at the ripe old age of 37. Kildare's greatest ever forward was more interested in ensuring McGeeney got kept on.

“I think it is imperative that the management, led by Kieran, stays on,” said Doyle. “I can’t over-talk how much Kieran means to this county. He puts his life into it. I don’t think it is a coincidence we are seeing success at underage. He drives the whole thing.”

And still they drove him out. Doyle recently hung up his boots, after unflinching service to the Lilywhite cause, while McGeeney was snapped up to aid the Tipperary hurlers and his native Armagh.

At yesterday’s launch of the fourth annual Race the Rás charity cycle in aid of NBCRI, Doyle was asked about the driven ex-Armagh captain’s ways.

“The thing with Kieran is, he always challenged you. No matter where you thought you were or where anyone else thought you were. If you were only new onto the team or you were there as an established player.”

To prove as much he shared a story that neatly encapsulates the McGeeney mindset.

" We were playing an As versus Bs on the Tuesday before we played Donegal in a league match and I was on the Bs. I wasn't overly happy with it and I went to him and I said 'what are we looking at here?'.

"He said: 'you're not where I need you to be'. And I said 'what do you mean? I'm training hard'. I was sort of getting a bit vexed and I said 'look, if you think there's six better forwards in Kildare than me, fair enough.'

Your problem
"And he said 'see Johnny, that's your problem. I need you to be one of the best in the country. Not the best in Kildare'. My level of expectation wasn't where he saw it. And that sums up what it is about Kieran for me. There is always more and he always looks for more.

“I think he will bring the same to Tipperary. No matter what sport it is, he’ll challenge the lads. There are probably a few traditionalists down around Tipperary saying ‘what the hell is Kieran McGeeney doing here?’ But I’d say he doesn’t talk too much hurling with them.

“It’s about how they can prepare better. What they can do to bring more to the team as an individual, whether you’re the oldest on the team or a new lad coming in. He’ll challenge them to improve.

“But he’ll definitely ask them the hard questions. Not just to be better themselves but what they can do to make the team better. I think he will definitely improve things down there.”

As he did for Armagh as their captain, as he did with Kildare as their manager.

In football, like life, you tend not to know what you’ve got until it is gone.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent

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