7 hours ago By Fintan O’Toole of TheJournal.ie
Paudie O’Neill has links to the capital but is firmly behind Tipperary before next Sunday.
PAUDIE O’NEILL IS the new man on the Tipperary hurling management scene.
Eamon O’Shea was the innovative coach who was central to their 2010 All-Ireland final win and the man now managing them in next Sunday’s decider.
Michael Ryan was a selector on that glorious Sunday for the county four years ago and has a rich Tipperary playing career behind him.
O’Neill was the new addition as the team coach last year and while he may have Tipperary roots, he has firm links to Dublin hurling as well. Last year O’Neill retired from teaching at St Colmcille’s in Knocklyon, the feeder school to local GAA club Ballyboden St-Enda’s.
When Tipperary defeated Dublin in July’s All-Ireland quarter-final, there was a chunk of the Dublin team who had come under the guidance of O’Neill during their careers.
Ballyboden St-Enda’s Conal Keaney in pursuit of Tipperary’s Patrick Maher.
“In 1997 I was manager of the Dublin minor team, which is nearly 20 years ago. We ran a development squad then parallel with us – U17 – and it was Kevin Heffernan who was the chairman of coaching and games in Dublin at the time.
“He promoted that idea. So, that was initiated in Dublin nearly 20 years ago, but now it is accepted as just par for the course in all counties. You do work, you have a player pathway and you try and produce good-quality players.
“Most of my coaching was done in Dublin. So when Eamon (O’Shea) asked me to come in, it was winding back the clock because I was going back into an environment that I had not been in for a long time. It takes you a while then to acclimatize.”
Paudie O’Neill and Eamon O’Shea
O’Neill and O’Shea go back a long way.
“My decision to come would have been very much guided by the fact that it was Eamon O’Shea who asked me. We go back a long way. I played for Dublin slightly after him. Eamon had a brief affair with Dublin and I played just slightly afterwards. We met initially in the late ’70’s when we were on a Tipperary U21 squad and then we were in Dublin at the same time and shared a house together.”
But despite all of his Dublin links, O’Neill is firmly a Tipperary hurling man.
“I remember sitting at the match (2011 All-Ireland semi-final) with my daughter and she saying ‘Dad you must be conflicted today’, because I’d have known quite a few of the Dublin players from our own club,” laughs O’Neill.
“I wouldn’t say I had divided loyalties. If I’m ever asked where I’m from I say I’m from Tipperary, that is the reality. But I had a really good appreciation of how much work Dublin had put in to get themselves to that level. I always want Tipp to win!”