DONAL O’GRADY has taken the reins at the helm of The Limerick Senior Hurling Team for the forthcoming season and has spoken of the “talent and potential” in Limerick Hurling as he bids to restore stability to a county rocked by scandal in 2010.
The former Cork manager insists however that his time in charge by the banks of the Shannon will be a short one instead hoping to rebuild structures in Limerick so that ‘they’ll be able to sail the ship themselves next year’.
O’Grady has assembled a Dream Team of selectors with former Limerick stalwarts Ciarán Carey, TJ Ryan and Pat Heffernan ratified at a specially convened meeting of Limerick County Board in Claughan.
Ciarán Carey was one of the star turns of Limerick’s 1994 and 1996 All-Ireland Final teams and perhaps his finest moment came when scoring a stunning last minute winner from the Centre Half Back position against then All –Ireland champions Clare in the 1996 Muntser Championship.
Meanwhile, Garyspillane clubman TJ Ryan only retired from the Limerick Senior Hurling Panel in 2006 and is sure to have a tremendous in depth knowledge of the current crop of players.
Pat Heffernan won a Munster Senior Hurling Championship medal in 1994 and will be able to bring his managerial experience to the table from his time in charge of the Kerry Hurlers in 2007-08.
Limerick supporters are sure to be excited at the prospect of O’Grady passing on his coaching experience to these 3 greats of the past in the hope that one day, one of them might succeed O’Grady as manager.
This excitement comes hot on the heels of a miserable 2010 season for the Treaty County when the majority of the Senior Panel refused to train under former coach Justin McCarthy.
Donal O’ Grady however is not looking to dwell on the problems of the past and commented: ”At this moment no panel exists. Any player who makes himself available will be considered for selection. That is the only sensible way to look at it. Anyone willing to put the shoulder to the wheel will be considered.”
He added: “The agreement we have is that I will have the job for a year. There’s talent there and there’s potential there. My feeling is that there is enough managerial talent in Limerick but they felt they needed a little bit of stability after the last couple of years. Maybe I was approached because I had come in after the Cork strike a few years ago.
“What they wanted was Limerick people to be directing the ship but they wanted the experience brought in first to put structures in place that they could carry on themselves.”
The 2004 All Ireland winning manager O’Grady also rationalized the reasoning behind his return to inter county management after a six year break from the fray.
He said: “The thing that enthuses me is not so much the management but the coaching. It is work that I always loved no matter what team I was working with. Man management and putting systems in place is something that I get great satisfaction from and has a certain appeal. If the small things are right, the big things will look after themselves. There’s a pyramid and the base has to be strong. You have to have things right at the foundation with training and logistics. They’re the things that maybe were missing, I won’t know until I go in but that’s the impression I’ve been given and that will be my role.”
O’ Grady who has a reputation for meticulous planning and preparation from his time in charge in Cork refused to set any targets for the 2011 campaign and maintained that his only ambition was to get the best out of players so that they could perform at their optimum for Limerick.
O’ Grady, a Teacher by profession was speaking on RTÉ Raidio na Gaeltachta’s Saol ó Dheas when he said: “The most important thing will be to get to know the players and to put together the strongest panel possible. My outlook has always been to take it from there. I’ve never been one for setting targets; to win this or that. The one aim I always have is to get the potential of the players out of them and you can’t do more than that.”
In further Limerick GAA news, County Board Officials are also hoping to finalise a replacement for outgoing County Senior Football boss Mickey Ned O’ Sullivan with Maurice Horan and former Tipperary Bainisteoir Tom McGlinchey the frontrunners for the position.