Liam Sheedy and Tipperary – the latest Second Act

New manager’s first task will be to restore confidence after Tipperary’s dismal 2018

Liam Sheedy: he has kept a close eye on the game, assisting with collage and clubs teams since 2010, and also working with the Antrim hurlers earlier this year. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Whatever about F Scott Fitzgerald’s old dictum that there are no second acts in American lives, there is no shortage of them in senior hurling management, with some notably more successful than others.

Liam Sheedy’s second act as Tipperary senior hurling manager, ratified by the county board on Monday night with the background team to be confirmed at a later date, brings a naturally fresh expectation of success, especially after he suddenly and unexpectedly stepped down from the position in the aftermath of the 2010 All-Ireland success over Kilkenny, halting their “drive-for-five” in the process.

Still, plenty of equally successful managers have tried it before and failed – Michael “Babs” Keating, Ger Loughnane, Eamonn Cregan, Michael Bond – either returning to their own county or, indeed, elsewhere.

The last hurling manager to realise such a successful return was Cyril Farrell, who managed Galway to the 1980 All-Ireland, took a breather, then came back and won two more in 1987 and 1988.


There clearly are no guarantees when going forward partly in reverse, the first challenge for Sheedy being restoring some confidence after Tipperary’s early exit in this summer’s round-robin series of the Munster hurling championship. It saw them finish the round-robin stages without a win (they drew with Cork and Waterford) from their four games.

That prompted Michael Ryan to resign, despite having the backing of the county board for another year, along with his hurling coach Declan Fanning, and selectors John Madden and Conor Stakelum.

Ryan had started out on the sideline as a selector initially under two separate managers before stepping up to that level himself in 2016. Ryan cited increased work commitments, but also said at the time: “Having carefully considered what is in the best interest of Tipperary hurling and our current crop of players we believe the time is now right for a change of direction at management level. It is our hope that a change in management will bring fresh new thinking to ensure Tipperary continues to compete for top honours in the coming years.”

Work commitments 

At age 48, Sheedy arguably comes in with increased work commitments of his own with Bank of Ireland, where he now works as Munster provincial director; he is also chairman of Sport Ireland’s high-performance unit, and a member of the council, and was also among the three final candidates to replace Páraic Duffy as the GAA’s director-general, a role which eventually went to Tom Ryan.

Since that success in 2010, then the county’s first All-Ireland in nine years, they’ve landed just one more, in 2016, the open desire and determination to win back-to-back titles in 2017 falling just short when they lost to eventual champions Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Sheedy has kept a close eye on the game, assisting with several collage and clubs teams since 2010, and also working with the Antrim hurlers for a period earlier this year.

Still his return was unexpected in other ways too: this summer’s All-Ireland under-21 winning manager Liam Cahill, who secured a brilliant win over Cork in the final, and former All-Ireland-winning minor manager Willie Maher, were the clear frontrunners to fill the vacancy until Sheedy became an 11th-hour candidate, his name suddenly appearing in the hat late last week.

Clearly there is that fresh conveyor belt of under-21 players to draw on, plus the nucleus of the 2016 All-Ireland winning team, including Pádraic Maher, Seamus Callanan Noel McGrath, Patrick “Bonner” Maher, and Brendan Maher, currently recovering from a cruciate ligament tear.

Tipperary, meanwhile, are among the 32 county boards to benefit from €3.2million donation from Limerick hurling’s sponsor JP McManus, in the form of €100,000 to every Gaelic Games county board in Ireland, to be divided equally among their clubs.


The leading racehorse owner has made the €3.2million donation following Limerick’s All-Ireland senior hurling triumph last month – explaining in a letter to each county board that his intention is to assist the continued development of Gaelic Games in the country. The news was first reported by RTÉ.

Limerick beat last year’s champions Galway 3-16 to 2-18 to win the Liam MacCarthy Cup after a 45-year wait, and following the match McManus was lauded by players and the management team for his backing over the years. He was subsequently invited into the winning dressing room to celebrate with the Limerick team.

Following that victory, McManus, who sponsors the team under the Sporting Limerick branding, explained the win had come about because of the county’s hurling academy which had brought players from grassroots level with the full support of parents.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics