Intense, big ego, too high expectations, doesn’t listen, dictatorial, likes the sound of his own voice etc. I’m sure I’ve been labelled with all those over the last three years. That creates a perception of what I might be like but I’d argue the negative aspects of the traits I mention above do not match reality so much. Mostly the behaviour was with the best of intentions, maybe sometimes even intentional as I tried to craft a credible, organised set-up that attracted players and made sure when they arrived they enjoyed it and stayed. We succeeded and so I don’t regret any of the arguments, decisions or perceptions which may have occurred.
I’m not sure how to describe the experience of the last three years but I can imagine it is similar to raising a child; getting the satisfaction out of seeing it develop but also sharing the pain when things don’t go quite so well. That mean’s stepping back is probably going to be like giving up the child. After a month or so of exchanges; myself, Colin and Eoin sat down in The Oak on Saturday night and agreed that Eoin would take the managerial reigns in 2011.
Eoin and I both share an equal passion for hurling and football but our styles and way of demonstrating it often conflict, which has led to more than one clash over the years. There was a night in 2009 when we clashed at training and he headed for the gate. There was the exchange in Munich where he unloaded a few of his opinions on me and more than one frank email exchange over the years. I’m sure his family have heard what a pr1ck I am on more than one occasion too!
For us to have fallen out long-term would have benefited neither of us nor would it have done the team any good. More than once we had to bite our tongues and get on with it. I appreciated the very direct feedback I’d get from him as he was one of the few to pull me up on things and I needed that. At the beginning of this year, it made sense to ask him to take over as captain, as potentially a volatile combination it could have been. For us to succeed we have to be aligned though and we both realise this.
After mulling it over for six weeks or so he will now take over as manager/coach of the lad’s football. He knows it’s a big ask as the whole thing has grown massively and requires a monumental about of time, commitment and dedication. Already he has ideas on how to manage things better and hopefully they will benefit the whole set-up and drive things on further. Naturally, he can count on my support throughout.
I never expected to be able to get out fully and I’m sure Eoin will use me at different stages of the year. I realise what it takes to keep going and there will probably be days when he needs me to take a session or bounce ideas off me. He’ll be the boss though and I look forward to just being a player. Of course, he has Collie B to work with and he will again be key to making sure we continue to run things in as professional a manner as possible.
Eoin will have his hands full though. As far back as 2001, I was referred to as being ‘militant’ in my approach to an issue with management of one of the teams I played on so I’m sure it is unlikely that I will fade quietly into the background! My main motivation in stepping back is to just enjoy playing without all the burdens of being one of the lads leading the group. We get thrown into coaching roles much younger in Europe then at home and that can rob us of some of the enjoyment from actually playing during our best years. My focus in 2011 will be to get the body right and get back that focused dementia that we had in 2008 back!!
To finish with a final perception, the one which probably gives me the most credit for the growth of football in the club. I recognise my contribution and appreciate that people feel it was valuable even if sometimes it is overstated. Others have made massive contributions and deserve mentioning before I sign off. Conan for his drive and passion to get things going, Emmett for sharing my madness as captain in ’08, Ruairi and particularly Johnny P for making sure the Shield team wasn’t a kiss-me-ass set-up and instead one that could hold their heads high and be respected. Cluxton as captain in 2009, Rochey for being such a big help with training in 2010 and and of course Collie B whose contribution has been stated on many occasions here. One person can’t make this thing tick and Eoin won’t be able to do it on his own. However, if he gets the support I got then I’m sure we will go from strength to strength.