Thurles Sarsfields men (from left) Stephen Maher, Michael Gleeson, Richie Ruth and Kevin O’Gorman pictured celebrating Tipperary's 2012 All-Ireland intermediate hurling final win over Kilkenny.
At the September meeting of the Tipperary County Board delegates agreed to withdraw from the 2017 inter-county intermediate hurling championship.
As recently as 2012-13 Fethard’s Michael Ryan managed Tipperary to back-to-back All-Ireland titles - in all the Premier have won seven All-Ireland titles at the grade; in 1963, 1966, 1971, 1972 and 2000 Tipp took ultimate honours while the side coached by Michael Ferncombe (Holycross-Ballycahill) beat Kilkenny in successive finals in 2012 and 2013.
In recent years Tipperary have been permitted to include players from senior clubs on the inter-county intermediate team, but, as revealed to the County Board meeting by chairman Michael Bourke, a change to the regulations now restricts the county to only use players from intermediate and junior clubs. Mr Bourke indicated that the competition had “lost its flair” and that the “money would be better spent elsewhere”.
“The reality of it is that we can’t play our second string team and there is no desire there amongst the players to play at the grade,” County Board chairman Michael Bourke said.
From the floor delegate John Costigan proposed that “Tipperary do not field an intermediate team in 2017”. Mr Costigan said the competition “had its day” and “does not have any further function”. The motion was seconded by former County Board chairman Seán Nugent and passed. Kilsheelan-Kilcash’s Seán Nugent said: “The difficulty is the huge number of senior teams that we have which militates against our situation. We would not be competitive, far from it”.
With respect to the participation of the Tipperary junior football team in the 2017 championship County Board chairman Michael Bourke indicated that the executive would apply for a dispensation which would allow the county to select players from senior clubs.
“If we don’t get it we will not be playing in the junior football (championship),” Michael Bourke added.
The motion was proposed by Football Board chairman Joe Hannigan and seconded by West Tipperary Board chairman John O’Shea.
INTER-COUNTY MANAGEMENTS RATIFIED
On Wednesday night in the Sarsfields Centre, Thurles the inter-county management teams were ratified for the respective 2017 campaigns.
The senior, under-21 and minor inter-county hurling management teams led by Michael Ryan, William Maher and Liam Cahill respectively have a year to run on their terms of office. County Board chairman Michael Bourke revealed that all were “willing to continue”.
All three management teams were ratified in block - proposed by Jimmy Minogue (Nenagh Éire Óg) and seconded by Joe Bracken (County Board PRO).
Following a Football Board meeting on Tuesday evening chairman Joe Hannigan brought forward the details of the proposed senior, under-21 and minor football teams for ratification by the County Board.
In an eye-catching move 38-year-old Moyle Rovers man and two-time All Star Declan Browne was ratified as manager of the under-21 team. Browne, who captained Tipperary to the county’s 2005 Tommy Murphy Cup success, will be joined on the under-21 management team by selectors Liam England (Inane Rovers), Philip Ryan (Clonmel Commercials), Peter Lambert (Ardfinnan) and Andrew Lacey (Arravale Rovers).
At minor level Mattie Doherty has been promoted from 2016 selector to 2017 manager while 2016 manager Mick O’Sullivan is stepping back and will perform the role of selector. Johnny Nevin will also feature on the management team as a selector; Jason Coffey will take responsibility for the strength and conditioning of the team while David Power, who stepped down as Wexford senior football manager in recent weeks, will return to the Tipperary fold as minor coach. David Power, of course, guided the Tipperary minor team to All-Ireland glory in 2011.
On Monday the Laois County Board ratified former Tipperary manager and Thurles resident Peter Creedon as Laois senior football manager - Creedon’s management team will feature former Tipperary coach Michael McGeehin and former selector Mick O’Loughlin alongside Tommy Toomey. The acquisition of the Arravale Rovers man is regarded as a coup for Creedon - Toomey is renowned as an outstanding analyst and a man who has made a huge contribution to the development of football in Tipperary. Indeed, Toomey managed the under-21 team to provincial success in 2015 and was also a member of Liam Kearns’ senior management team in 2016.
It was revealed at Wednesday night’s County Board meeting that senior football manager Liam Kearns will be adding Jerome Stack to his management team as coach - while it is understood that Brian Lacey and Michael Byrnes will continue to play key support roles for the football team Shane Stapleton and Paul Fitzgerald will be retained as selectors while David Moriarty will continue to take responsibility for the strength and conditioning of the side.
Jerome Stack, a Kerry native and former under-21 coach, coached the Limerick senior team in 2015 and also spent two years working alongside Tomás Ó Flatharta with Laois. Stack coached Dromcollogher-Broadford to the Limerick senior football title in 2012 and managed Feale Rangers to win a first Kerry senior football title in 27 years (2007).
To close the September meeting of the County Board chairman Michael Bourke said that he wished to “compliment everyone involved” in the success enjoyed by the senior football, senior hurling and minor hurling teams in 2016.
“There was a golden few weeks starting off with the performance of the football team; the way they played and represented Tipperary the footballers lost nothing in defeat and only gained in admirers,” chairman Michael Bourke said.
Reflecting on Tipperary’s All-Ireland senior and minor hurling successes Michael Bourke added: “The success of the minor and senior hurling teams, the way they performed, the style of game that they played and the way that they represented Tipperary proved to be a unique occasion for the county”.
Michael Bourke also praised the “exemplary behaviour” of all players and how the respective managers “kept a low profile on the celebrations”.
“The success really has given a new lease of life to the county,” Michael Bourke said.
County Board vice-chairman John Devane, who is also chairman of the Competitions Control Committee (CCC), revealed at the September meeting of the County Board that the divisional championships should be separated from the county championships.
“That would be my view,” the Boherlahan-Dualla man said as part of a discussion which revolved around club fixture congestion.
Speaking on the basis of his experience working on the County Board and as a leading member of the CCC Mr Devane said that “it is my belief that they (the divisions) should stand on their own two feet” - County Board chairman Michael Bourke agreed with his colleague. “A lot of people are starting to say that,” the Upperchurch-Drombane man added.
Dan Kennedy, the chairman of the North Tipperary Board, indicated that he had one North medal, which he regarded as a “prized possession”, but Mr Kennedy also said that “if we were men enough in the divisions to play it separately then there would be no difficulty in progressing the club championships”.
The discussion of issues related to fixture congestion begun following the announcement of County Board chairman Michael Bourke that, as per usual, a County Board meeting would take place in November to specifically discuss issues related to fixtures and the structures of the respective competitions in Tipperary. Mr Bourke indicated that he wished to “notify clubs in good time” about the meeting and to “remind clubs that the time is coming to discuss our competition structures”.
“The time is coming for dialogue,” Michael Bourke explained before revealing that even though the structure of some competitions can’t be changed recommendations would be looked at.
Reacting to a discussion, which featured references made to issues in the South division and with regard to post-primary level schools fixtures, Tom Maher (secretary of the CCC) declared that “our championships are not fit for purpose and we are proving that every single year”.
“Our championships are not fit for purpose and they are not run correctly,” Tom Maher said before explaining how the success of the respective inter-county teams reduced the opportunities to play club games. And, that the re-structure of the county senior hurling championship in time for the 2013 season complicated matters.
“It is not the fault of anyone on the inter-county or the club scene, but you don’t have to be a mathematician to realise that it is simply not working,” Tom Maher added before arguing that Tipperary needed to “do what other counties do; have less championship games and more league games”.
Agreeing with his colleague on the CCC County Board vice-chairman John Devane said: “to my mind it is not fit for purpose”.
With specific regard to the minor grade John Devane explained how the Kilkenny minor championship was played on a straight knock-out basis at this time of year, but from March to July minor teams in Kilkenny played ten rounds of league games.
“It is amazing how good we are at minor level considering the club structures that we have,” John Devane explained before insisting that minor players need to play at their own level.
“It is a difficult thing to get together, but it needs to be done,” John Devane said before adding that the CCC were “doing our best to get the games played at a reasonable time of the year”.
In a lighter moment CCC secretary Tom Maher revealed that Hawkeye would not be in operation at Semple Stadium, Thurles for the conclusion of club championships
COUNTY BOARD IN BRIEF
John Costigan revealed that the 2016 Laochra Gael ceremony, which will honour 24 individuals from all four divisions, will take place on Sunday, November 20th.
County Board PRO Joe Bracken indicated that the Anner Hotel, Thurles would host a medal presentation event in honour of the Tipperary senior and minor hurlers on Saturday, November 26th.
At the September meeting of the County Board secretary Tim Floyd requested that members of the public be patient as the Liam MacCarthy Cup and Irish Press Cups make their way around the county.
It was also reported by chairman Michael Bourke that a steering committee had been established in order to look at the key issues and challenges faced by the county with a view to developing a new strategic plan. A report and associated recommendations will be published in due course.
Meanwhile an application from the Drom & Inch club to apply for a loan of €80,000 to buy five acres of land was approved by the County Board.
Thurles Sarsfields will host a Munster Pitch Education Day on Saturday, October 15th. County Board secretary Tim Floyd revealed that a “Tipperary Pitch Education Day” was cancelled earlier this year due to a lack of interest. Mr Floyd asked clubs to seriously consider attending the event. He said that clubs would be contacted on an individual basis with regard to the event and he encouraged every club to send the club caretaker and club development officer to the Pitch Education Day.
Secretary Tim Floyd announced at the September meeting of the Tipperary County Board that the pricing for the season ticket would remain unchanged for the 2017 season (adult €99, €20 and €200 to add club plus) - renewals will be accepted from Monday, October 3rd. Tim Floyd indicated that the season ticket scheme had attracted almost 2,000 subscribers in the county. “The season ticket is the way to go,” Tim Floyd said.
The County Board have rejected the Croke Park proposal to re-structure the inter-county football championship. The proposal, led by GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy, featured a plan to replace the quarter-final stage of the championship with a group stage contested by the four provincial champions and the four round four qualifier winners. Football Board chairman Joe Hannigan indicated he was not in favour of adopting the proposed re-structure of the championship. Mr Hannigan indicated that the re-structuring could have a negative impact on the club fixture schedule.