The 9 Types Of GAA Club Manager You'll Find Around Ireland
The age of the tyrant is over. Long live the age of Liam Kearns. Will his easy-going example feed down to club level? Here are eight managers you find in nearly every club, as they prepare for the new season. And one which can only be found in Dublin.
The man who is always de facto manager regardless of who is actually appointed manager at the start of the year
A legend. A Mr. Big figure. The embodiment of the club. Such is his reputation, it is irrelevant whether he bears the title of 'manager'.
Not that he won't ever have been the official manager at one point. He may well have been and might indeed have had more than one spell.
But even in years when he isn't manager, he will make a habit of wandering into training sessions. When asked for his input by the 'official manager', he will end up talking for ten times longer and giving several times more insight.
Any positional switches or personnel changes he suggests will be accepted unthinkingly by the official manager. He does not consciously wish to usurp the manager but will end up doing so out of a mixture of habit and obligation.
Nonetheless, despite his domineering personality, he will keep up the pretence that he is not actually the manager.
The puppet manager
The man who facilitates the effortless rise to power of 'the de-facto manager', the puppet manager is appointed manager at the beginning of the year and continues to be described as such at official functions.
The erosion of his authority begins with him muttering a few uninspiring words at the end of the first training session before looking plaintively at the 'de-facto manager' and asking "have you anything to add, Liam?"
By the end of the year, he's just a glorified lift-giver.
The recently retired lad who can't resist bringing himself on late in high-pressure games
Becomes manager of the club immediately on his 'retirement' from playing. He finds that a year on the line watching the wasters under his charge sorely tests his commitment to that retirement.
By the time we get to the business end of the championship, it all becomes too much.
Two points down with ten minutes remaining and elimination staring them in the face, don't be surprised to see the man of the sideline unzip the tracksuit.
The lad who takes the job whenever no one else will do it
There is a fair amount of crossover between this manager and manager 1. The difference being that this guy will occasionally defer to the actual manager in years where he himself is a mere selector.
Also differs from manager 1 in that he tends to be less successful. But this is not a comment on his managerial ability.
For it is in the nature of this selfless and humble club servant that he is usually forced to take the job during down periods when no one else wants it.
He only steps into the breach when those on the managerial merry-go round decide there's so little talent in the club, they'll steer clear.
The hired gun
Travels around the county, taking charge of a different club every year. Ends up delivering county titles in a number of different spots.
The odd year, he might even take charge of a couple of clubs, one at the intermediate grade and one at senior. Assuming it's worth its while in financial terms.
The manager whose training drills are too complicated for the players under his charge
Like Brian Kerr with Ireland, he is accused of over-intellectualising the task at hand.
"Right lads, the first man goes. When he gets to the second man, the second man goes but the first man gives the ball to the third man and runs to the end of the queue. Then the third man goes and gives the ball to the fifth man, not the fourth man. That's very important, remember that.
Then the fifth man passes it back to the third man who gives it to the sixth man and then runs to the end of the second man's queue.
Then the sixth man gives a diagonal kick-pass to the fourth man who rolls it across to the seventh man who has to pick up the ball and throw it up between the eighth man and the ninth man. Whoever wins it passes it to the first man and then we do the same again. Have ye got that?
After a while I'll throw in a second ball."
The manager who has read too many GAA autobiographies
Before the first championship match, he'll stop the bus on the outskirts of the village and bellow out a passionate homily about the sporting prowess of their parish.
He'll invite them into his family home for Mi-Wadi and biscuits after a poor performance.
At half-time in the county final, he'll make sure to procure a county runners-up medal from somewhere and will slam it off the wall.
The ambitious young manager who is building his managerial CV at a middling club in Dublin*
Not a Dub but cutting his managerial teeth in the superleague that is the Dublin club scene. An ambitious and 'progressive' type, he patently has designs on taking charge of a county setup.
His countymen gossip constantly about how well-remunerated he is. His name is always near the top of the shortlist when his county's job is freed up.
(*Obviously only applicable in Dublin)
The modern coach Taylor type
Otherwise known as 'every successful club manager nowadays.'
This manager leaves nothing to chance. Methodical, meticulous, he brings an inter-county level of preparation to the club.
He compiles a backroom team to rival Dublin. He takes them away on foreign training camps. He has dieticians examining the colour of their stool.
The 18 week gap between games in the summer gives them ample time for going on bonding retreats.
A couple of years back, he was a tyrant when it comes to alcohol bans. He seemed to want to keep as tight a rein on his players' social life as Peter Graf had over Steffi's.
But that stuff is out of vogue now and he's a reformed character on that front. The tyrannical drink ban is dead.