The speakers at the Night with the Managers in Hayes Hotel including Donie Nealon, Fr Tom Fogarty, Babs Keating and Len gaynor.
Hayes Hotel, the birthplace of the GAA, hosted a unique event last night in the very room the Association was founded.
The Thurles Sportsfest Night with the Managers event in Hayes Hotel this week proved to be an enlightening evening with much debate, discussion and chat on the state of the game in The Premier County and in the country in general.
Fr Tom Fogarty, Donie Nealon, Michael 'Babs' Keating and Len Gaynor were on hand to offer their expert views on all matters put to them by Tipp Mid West radio presenter Stevie O'Donnell and members of the audience.
This was the third annual such GAA discussion, with talks having already focused on gambling and addiction in sport, and on the 1987 Munster Final replay in Killarney - one of the great great days of Tipperary hurling.
And this year, organiser Tommy Barrett, grandson of the great Runaí, Tomás Ó Baroid, who was County Board Secretary during the managerial careers of each of the four men mentioned above, decided to focus on management and how it has changed over the course of the years.
Donie Nealon and Babs Keating being interviewed on the night.
“We could not have gotten four better men to speak to us and we are thrilled to welcome them amongt us for this unique Sportsfest event,” he told the modest gathering in the Davin Room, where the GAA was founded back in 1884. It was a pity that there were not more present to take part in the discussion, because it was most enlightening, wide ranging and insightful evening with the contributions ranging from the state of coaching, the lack of ground hurling in the modern game, conditioning and strength of players, intensity and willingness to go into battle and a look to the future for Tipperary.
Guest speaker, Tipperary Star journalist Noel Dundon, spoke about what the GAA means to the Tipperary public and told of how winning and losing has a major effect on the general psyche of the county.
There was also much insight gleaned from the tales and stories from Babs, Donie and Len as they delved into the memory bank and recalled their owns days on the field and how they were influenced by others wearing the blue and gold - Tony Wall being one name which kept cropping up time and again as a real on-field mentor.
Though Tipperary hurling might be in a state of hiatus at the present time, there was much positivity from the panel with Donie Nealon offering the view that the lengthy break, though unwanted, could prove to be a real blessing in disguise for many to the Premier hurlers.
“I predict that they will come back very fresh next year and that they can have a big impact on the championship in 2019,” the Burgess man said.
Fr Tom Fogarty offered the view that a method of hurling suitable to the players at the managements disposal must be found - Newtownshandrum did it to suit their players and enjoyed much success. There is no reason why Tipperary cannot do the same to suit their players, he said.“I'm not saying that we play the system that Bernie O'Connor devised for Newtownshandrum, but I am saying that we should devise a method which suits our players,” he said.
Len Gaynor pointed to the need for absolute concentration on the part of players and felt that some of the Tipp lads at all levels are inclined to switch off.
“We were always told that if the ball is in the net at the other end, you keep your eye on it at all times. Concenetration is of paramount importance. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don't,” he said.
It was a premier hurling evening in The Premier hurling County.