The countdown is on to Kilkenny and Tipp while the rest of the contenders reflect on what might have been

The countdown is on to Kilkenny and Tipp while the rest of the contenders reflect on what might have been
Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

WITH the notable exception of Brian Cody and Liam Sheedy, the rest of those who were tasked in their role as inter-county team bosses will reflect on why their teams did not measure up when the hard questions were posed.

Last week, Cork U20 boss Denis Ring said their only objective at the start of the season was to be one of the two participants on the final day of that championship.

It would have been a similar story with every other team manager across the GAA landscape, being there on the day when the only trophy that really matters is handed over.

There might be some slippage along the journey, a team might lose once or even twice, where Limerick were concerned this year they could have reached the All-Ireland final day after losing three times in Munster, against Cork and Tipperary in the Round -Robin series and against Tipp in the Munster final. That didn’t happen, of course, they hammered Tipp in the Munster final before losing the All-Ireland semi-final to Kilkenny.

But the situation did exist they could have lost three championship games and still ended up with the McCarthy Cup.

So, how will those managers who failed to make it to the last day reflect on the season? Some will have been very happy with how things panned out, Eddie Brennan with Laois, in particular, who started out in the Joe McDonagh Cup and who made it all the way through to an All-Ireland quarter-final.

The job the former Kilkenny great did with the O’Moore County this year was quite remarkable, the highlight, of course, being that All-Ireland qualifiers win over Dublin On a scale of one to 10, Brennan would surely merit a nine.

Another manager who can look back with a lot of satisfaction on the season was Davy Fitzgerald with Wexford and his achievement of bringing them in from the cold in Leinster. Given the presence of Kilkenny, Galway and Dublin, lifting the Bob O’Keeffe Cup was a huge achievement.

They came up short against Tipp in the All-Ireland semi-final but that won’t take from a very productive season on Slaneyside.

For the rest who donned the bainisteoir’s bib, their season just petered out in a manner that for some was desperately disappointing.

John Kiely did end up with two trophies, the national league and the Munster championship and they certainly defended their All-Ireland victory of 12 months previous in an admirable fashion.

It all ended in great disappointment on Shannonside with that All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kilkenny but Limerick certainly have not gone away.

Mattie Kenny in Dublin enjoyed a huge victory over Galway in Leinster but all that good work was undone by losing to Laois.

However, Dublin hurling is in a far better place now than it used to be and Kenny will get more time.

At the start of the year and considering that they were champions in 2017 and losers by just a point in 2018, Galway were the fancy of many pundits to go all the way again.

Apart from one very good win in Nowlan Park in the Leinster championship, the rest of the season was pretty much a disaster for Galway, the loss to Dublin being one of the stories of the season.

Miceal O’Donoghue is an All-Ireland winner from 2017 and that has him with a lot of credit in the bank.

But Galway will have to do a lot better next season and GAA fans everywhere lose faith in county managers very quickly and credit in the bank can run out very quickly.

John Meyler and Padraic Fanning have left the inter-county arena. Getting to a league final stood for very little in Waterford and no win at all in the championship was not good for Fanning.

In fact, the best performance his team gave was against Cork in Munster when they had nothing to play for.

Cork gave two sterling performances over the season, both against Limerick but their inconsistency within gamesm and from game to game, cost them too often.

And that was a problem ever before Meyler came in.

Who would want to be an inter-county manager?

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