What causes a player to retire when his side are so close to another All-Ireland title?
A lot of fine players have retired in the last 12 months, and a whole clutch in the last few months. Cha Fitzpatrick, John Dalton, Mick Kavanagh, Ronan Curran, Jerry O’Connor and Dan Shanahan are some of the most famous names but none has caused such a stir as Lar Corbett.
There has been a lot of speculation about Lar’s decision.
One of the strands of conjecture going around is that Declan Ryan’s management team weren’t really cutting it as far as the Thurles man was concerned. The brilliant relationship he enjoyed under Liam Sheedy and Eamonn O’Shea just wasn’t the same under Ryan’s set up. Now how accurate that is, is difficult to ascertain.
No doubt things are different under Ryan, Tommy Dunne and company but despite all that Tipperary performed well last year, before coming undone in the final.
There was frustration about management decision making, with the failure to start Brendan Maher in the final a talking point. It is harsh on Ryan, who was in his first season and with a really difficult job in following up on Sheedy’s achievement.
Whatever the why’s and how’s, Lar Corbett has in early spring decided to walk away. There’s mention of keeping his business afloat and of being unable to maintain six nights a week county training.
I get the impression given how late in the day Lar has left it, that if things were going well with the hurling, the business side of things wouldn’t have been such an issue. If he’s unhappy with the game it probably makes more sense for him to concentrate on the pub.
Declan Ryan and his management team would probably have been seen as a breath of fresh air if they had taken over after Babs Keating’s disastrous tenure, and now (after Sheedy’s revolution) the suspicion is that they might look a bit dated. Again I have to apologise for conjecture, but Corbett’s decision and its timing must leave the possibility open.
Perhaps the feeling isn’t shared by the rest of the panel and maybe Lar Corbett is genuinely unable to make the commitment. Perhaps Lar provides difficulty as he needs to train in an individualised way and the management wouldn’t indulge it.
Having trusted a training method that had seen him avoid injury for the first sequence of seasons in years, Lar Corbett could have felt justified in pulling the plug when asked to engage in training methods, which he knew would be to his detriment. Who knows?
We can only speculate!
From my own experience, and not for one moment saying that this is true of Declan Ryan’s capable sideline staff, there is nothing as demoralising for a team than to see a slip in standards through change of management.
Light years from the grand stage but no less relevant, 12 years ago my club junior side won a county junior title. The management in charge were excellent at attention to detail, we had challenge games aplenty, weekend morning training sessions, brilliant motivational team talks; everyone bought into it, we were well prepared and they got the best out of us.
The season after winning that title we were in intermediate and the same bunch of players were knocked out of that year’s championship in extra time of a replay by a team that not only went on to win that competition but ended up in the county senior final the following year.
With their equally sound management and with the bit of fortune they had in beating us they had a momentum that almost carried them to the ultimate county title.
Meanwhile our side’s management departed the scene and with the change of the guard we went backwards. The new management just weren’t at the races at all; they were nowhere near the previous set up in terms of the basics of management or ability to motivate.
Everything fell away and a year later we just avoided relegation around about the same time our opponents from that intermediate game were scaling the heights of their potential.
People can blame players as much as they like but any player will tell you a good manager can improve a team that crucial 10% and a bad one can diminish it fivefold.
Tipperary may well win the All-Ireland this year without Lar Corbett. If they do not people are going to ask why he couldn’t be kept happy and kept on side.
If the management team are indeed so inflexible that they couldn’t adapt their structure to accommodate as prolific and influential a forward as Corbett, then nothing less than an All-Ireland will justify it at season’s end.
We shouldn’t expect too much tolerance of failure in Slievenamon, if that is to be their lot in 2012.
Twitter : DiarmaidWillia1