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Ranking the contenders for the Tipperary hurling job

There’s plenty of candidates to be sourced within the county borders this winter.

As Michael Ryan steps aside from his role as Tipperary senior hurling manager, the conversation is in full swing as to who will be the best candidate for the job.

There’s an unwritten rule in Tipperary hurling whereby the manager must be from the county, so although there are a number of possible candidates from around the country, such as Derek McGrath who has recently left his post in Waterford, we see no point in considering them here.

Even though it may seem more prudent to target a figure like McGrath, who got so much out of the Déise and had a great rapport with his players, Tipperary have a number of homegrown candidates that will be placed under the microscope by the county board.

1 Tommy Dunne

The Toomevara clubman has lifted All-Irelands in the blue and gold and would be a fitting icon to oversee a new younger generation in Tipperary, having worked with the minors up until their recent defeat to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Dunne would bring a modern approach to the role and no doubt add some new tactical input to try and get the best out of the magnificent talent at his disposal. 

2 Liam Cahill

Similarly to Dunne, Liam Cahill has been working with the underage groups in Tipp and is currently overseeing their U-21s ahead of an All-Ireland semi-final. He previously held the minor job for four years and won the All-Ireland with them in 2016. Given his track record, he would be the obvious candidate to step up to the senior role.

How Tipp go in the U-21s, having been beaten by Cork in the Munster, could tell a lot – a win for Cahill would make it very difficult for the board to look beyond the Ballingarry man.

3 Liam Sheedy

A pipe dream, perhaps, but the 2010 All-Ireland winning coach would still be the most coveted man available in Tipperary for that success eight years ago.

Despite winning that All-Ireland in emphatic fashion, there’s still an air of unfinished business between the two, however a return at this point is unlikely for the RTÉ analyst.

4 Brendan Cummins

Similarly to Dunne, Cummins would be a hugely popular former legend to take place in the dugout. Unlike Dunne however, Cummins has no experience with the underage groups in the county and would be installed purely on his status as a former player, which wouldn’t be unlike Tipp to do.

He does have experience coaching with Laois and Kerry, however, so he wouldn’t be completely new to the cut and thrust of inter-county management. He would make an excellent second in command to one of Dunne or Cahill, even if he would be a major loss to RTÉ’s commentary team.

5 Colm Bonnar

The Carlow boss could be an under-the-radar addition, should Tipperary go with the Cashel man. He has overseen the terrific rise of Carlow hurling, who won the newly established Joe McDonagh Cup last year and will thus be participating in the Leinster championship next year.

Bonnar previously managed Wexford and was part of a Waterford backroom, so has plenty of experience at the bigger counties. The Tipp crowd would appreciate Bonnar’s career (two All-Ireland’s as a player) and his managerial CV.

6 William Maher

Like Cahill, Maher has an All-Ireland minor title to his name and was previously the U-21 manager for two seasons. The Ballingarry man assisted Derek McGrath for a season in 2014.

He’ll be in the conversation, but is unlikely to usurp the likes of Dunne and Cahill. He would be a great backroom option however, perhaps with a view to taking over further down the road.

7 Nicky English

Another manager who is linked with the job on his former glories, having been a legend in his playing days and leading Tipp to the 2001 All-Ireland.

A return to management is unlikely however, for the Sky pundit.

8 Eamonn Kelly

Kelly left his Laois post in June and is available as a manager with senior county experience. He’s also proved himself at club level in Tipperary, taking Kildangan intermediate team to All-Ireland glory in 2005.

He has some experience with the underage setups, including serving as a manager for the U-21s and intermediates, and has most recently coached Kerry and Offaly. He has an extensive CV, but would be a left-field choice for the Tipperary role.

9 Tommy Maher

If Tipperary look to their club scene, Thurles Sarsfield boss Tommy Maher would be high in the pecking order. They’ve won four consecutive county championships, however have failed to make any inroads in the provincial or All-Ireland stages.

10 Declan Fanning

Unlikely at this point, given the entire backroom staff have walked, but Declan Fanning was a popular figure alongside Michael Ryan and would be a worthy candidate given his All-Ireland winning experience as a coach with the team.

Tipperary have hired from within the last three times now however, so are unlikely to go down that route this time around and will instead look for an outsider’s perspective.

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