Liam Sheedy Philips Manager of the Year

Sheedy savours winning feeling again

GAVIN CUMMISKEY, Irish Times

 

SPORTS MANAGER OF THE YEAR: LIAM SHEEDY was yesterday named the Philips Sports Manager of the Year in recognition for guiding the Tipperary hurlers to a first All-Ireland title since 2001 with a thrilling final victory that denied Kilkenny a historic five in a row.

The success came after Sheedy’s management team had served three years, which included defeat to Kilkenny in the 2009 final, and brings the annual winner back to the amateur field after Ireland and former Munster coach Declan Kidney picked up the award for the past two years.

Sheedy subsequently stepped down as Tipperary manager due to job commitments that forced him to carry an avalanche of a workload since the Bank of Ireland promoted him to the head of sales capability last June.

“I spend two nights in Dublin a week as a norm, but you’ve got to give that 100 per cent, because you can’t risk falling between two stools and not be able to give the commitment, because then there’s two losers and there’s no winners.

“In June, July, August, there was a lot of commuting, leaving Dublin at four o’clock and heading back down to Tipperary, maybe checking in at six or half six and getting back in the car at half-ten, touching down in the Burlington at half twelve so that does take its toll on you, you’re running on huge energy all the time.”

Sheedy can undoubtedly take genuine satisfaction from the fact he has left the Tipperary set-up in a markedly better shape that he found it.

“We feel like there’s huge leadership among the players and there’s a lot of talent coming through at under-21 level. But the lads are under no illusions, if they’re to have a chance next year they have to come up another 10 or 15 per cent as the team that has won the All-Ireland.

“So that’s going to be bring more challenges too, but they’ll quickly get back to working hard and there’ll be a very competitive environment in there. Declan (Ryan), Tommy (Dunne) and Michael (Gleeson) will do a huge job in overseeing that.”

This marks the fifth hurling recipient of the award and first since 2003 as Sheedy follows inaugural winner Pat Henderson (Kilkenny, 1982), joint winner Fr Michael O’Brien (Cork, 1990), Ger Loughnane (Clare, 1995) and Brian Cody (Kilkenny, 2003). Since Cody was recognised, rugby has provided four winners in the last six years, Kidney three times and Eddie O’Sullivan in 2004, but the sport failed to even receive a nomination in 2010.

The monthly winners from December 2009 to November 2010 were Michael McDermott (Kilmurry-Ibrickane, Gaelic football), Mark Ingle (DCU Mercy woman’s basketball coach), Prof Niall Moyna (DCU Gaelic football), Lenny Harbinson (St Gall’s Gaelic football), Chris Hughton (Newcastle United FC), Michael Bannon (Head professional Bangor golf club), Billy Walsh (high performance coach Irish Amateur Boxing Association), Fergal O’Donnell (Roscommon Gaelic football), Ronald Claes (high performance coach to swimmer Gráinne Murphy), Sheedy and Conor Counihan (Cork Gaelic football), Michael O’Neill (Shamrock Rovers) and Paul Cook (Sligo Rovers).

The decision to award Sheedy was by no means a foregone conclusion as the judging panel was split between the Tipperary hurling manager and IABA’s high-performance coach Billy Walsh after Ireland’s medal haul at the European boxing championships in Moscow.

The Irish Times sports editor Malachy Logan was joined by fellow judges Tom Aherne ( The Irish Examiner ), Steven Beacom ( The Belfast Telegraph ), Eoin Brannigan ( The Daily Star ), Pat Courtney ( The Irish Independent ), Trevor Welch (TV3) and Roy Willoughby (RTÉ).

The Minister for Art, Sport and Tourism, Mary Hanafin TD, presented the awards.

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