MUNSTER’S Peter O’Mahony summed up Brian Hickey, the energia All-Ireland League’s coach-of-the-year, his fourth time being recognised.
Hickey’s first AIL coaching job dates back to 1995 and his innings included a stint in the pro game as Munster assistant coach to Alan Gaffney.
“Brian is as professional now as he was back then with an appetite to learn new techniques and keep up to-date with what’s going on in rugby.
“Con are very lucky to have him and I’m delighted to announce Brian coach-of-the-year,” O’Mahony said at the virtual awards last weekend.
In many ways Hickey is a reluctant recipient of individual honours, joining Brian Hayes and Jack Crowley, who were also decorated.
“It was a very good night for us though we missed out on the try-of-the-season,.
“That encapsulated what we were trying to do as a team this season, using space, attacking from anywhere and making good decisions.
“The skill of the players, the support play and the individual work-rate of the players in that move was one of the highlights for me.
“I’m not a big fan of individual awards, like man-of-the-match, for example, in team sports, because I don’t think that’s not what the game of rugby is about.
“As I see it I’m head of a huge number of people who do an awful lot of work,” he said.
Even though the season was declared null and void, this is the time of year, when clubs look ahead to the next campaign.
“We’d normally go straight into recruitment for next season, the retention of players with the transfer window closing on June 1.
“This year, though, it’s extended until the 15th and it also starts today which is earlier than usual.
“The squad is obviously very important. Some fellows will naturally move on and then you’ve guys coming out of university.
“This tends to be a very busy time for clubs, but it’s more challenging because conversations take place over the phone because of the restrictions.”
Rugby is unsure about the 2020-21 campaign because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The union canvassed clubs about their ideas of what the league should be like next season, everyone realising that a starting point is uncertain at the moment.
“Do they want an 18-game (excluding play-offs) season, 14 or nine or even no season at all?
“My own view is that this will be decided firstly by government guidelines, secondly by the IRFU and thirdly be the medical advice.
“Our own club doctor, Tom Cahill, will have a big say in what we will do because Tom offers very good advice on that front.
“And I think the players themselves will have a say because some might feel uncomfortable in going back playing.
“And I’ve no doubt there will be certain referees, who by nature have young families, could also feel uncomfortable. Rugby has to get through a lot of bodies before you can do it.
“My view is if everything goes well we will return slightly later, maybe doing a pre-season in September.
“I think we could start with games in Cork and then move out to the province where you wouldn’t need a coach to bring players. Players could travel individually by car or households could go together.
“It might be possible to resume the AIL in December or in January and if that’s the case I reckon it will become a 14-game competition or a nine-game league. My view is that we should be a month behind the professional game and learn what procedures they’ve put in place.”