GAA Football

Outgoing Tipperary boss Liam Kearns praises staying-power of Mickey Harte and Brian Cody

Down captain Darren O'Hagan (centre) and team-mates celebrate following the All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Down and Tipperary at Pairc Esler in Newry, Down on June 9 2019. Picture by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile.

OUT-GOING Tipperary boss Liam Kearns says four or five years is the shelf life of an inter-county manager – but tipped his hat to evergreen bosses Mickey Harte and Brian Cody who continue to buck that trend.

Kearns stepped down as Tipp manager in the immediate aftermath of their All-Ireland Qualifier Round One defeat to Down on Sunday, admitting that he faced an uphill battle to justify staying on in the job for a fifth season after their disappointing loss to lowly Limerick in last month's Munster clash.

“I think after four or five years the players get used to your voice and you have to reinvent yourself at that stage.

“Mickey Harte seems to be able to do a good job of it. Brian Cody in the hurling seems to be able to do it,” said Kearns.

“It depends, I suppose. In my view, four or five years is about right. I had six years in Limerick where I stayed a year too long. I don't think you can go on more than five years and that would be my view.

“I'm four years there with Tipp now.

“There might have been one more year in it but I just felt the way results went this year it was time to get a fresh voice.”

In his first season in charge of the Premier County footballers, Kearns guided them to an unlikely All-Ireland semi-final where they pushed Mayo all the way.

They also performed well in Division Two for a couple of seasons with the likes of Michael Quinlivan, Conor Sweeney and Robbie Kiely becoming household names.

Kearns rejected the notion that the only way was down for Tipperary after scaling the heights in 2016.

“A lot of people say that but I've actually a lot of faith in these players. Last year we were a kick of the ball away from Division One football.

“We gave Mayo plenty of it last year [in the All-Ireland Qualifiers] before we went out. We'd one poor performance against Cork but I thought we were the best team in Division Two last year.

“We had the whole squad right; we didn't have injuries.

“The problem in Tipperary is when you lose players like Robbie Kiely, Bill Maher, Shane O'Connell, Josh Keane, you don't have the depth to replace those. It's only the big counties that can do that.”

Kearns maintains this should not be the end of the road for this talented Tipperary team but in order to push on, he said, they needed a change.

“They need a new approach and fresh ideas because there is plenty in them. They can achieve an awful lot yet, and I believe that.”

Michael Quinlivan, who had a terrific duel with Down's Darren O'Hagan in Newry on Sunday, agreed that Tipp could still be a force over the coming years.

“A lot of people are thinking this is the end,” he said.

“It's only a one-year thing these days in gaelic football. It's not a five-year project any more. You get as much out of yourself as you can each year.”

On his battle with O'Hagan, Quinlivan said: “He's robust, he can mix it and he's very good overhead even though I'd be a bit taller than him.

“He did very, very well against me. I'd just said the best of the luck to him.”

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