It was just over two years ago that Brendan Maher lifted Liam MacCarthy for Tipperary. Since 2010 and stopping the five-in-a-row, Tipp can come up short. In the next four years, Kilkenny exacted their revenge, while in 2015, a last second Galway point stopped them for getting another go at the Cats.
In 2016, it all changed. There was semi-final revenge on Galway, and, in the end, a comfortable win over Kilkenny in the final, finally putting Brian Cody's men away, at least for a couple of years.
The difference for Tipp in 2016? Many pointed to the new man at the helm. Michael Ryan had been a selector with Liam Sheedy during the county's previous success, and under Eamon O'Shea afterwards. Things couldn't have started any better. Tipp were at the pinnacle of the game, and seemed likely to stay there for some time to come.
Unfortunately, the two years since have been a disaster, and today, Ryan has announced that he has stepped down as Tipperary manager after just three years in charge.
In 2017, Tipp's defence of their All-Ireland title started with defeat to a young Cork team in the Munster Championship. A trip through the qualifiers and ultimate defeat to a Joe Canning wonder point certainly made it appear as though things were going well, but there was also a sense that the cracks had been papered over.
Bad vibes and rumours were abound about the Tipp panel and Cathal Barrett was kicked off the panel.
He was back as they embarked on their 2018 campaign which saw them reach the League final. Their Munster Championship, however, was a disaster. Defeats to Limerick and Clare bookended two bizarre games in which they ultimately drew with both Cork and Waterford. In all game, there were flashes of the Tipp team who were the best in the game just two years ago, but in none did those flashes last any significant period of time.
Ryan made headlines after the Limerick game by briefly refusing to speak to the media for the duration of the Munster Championship, though he backtracked on this decision a couple of days later.
Following the defeat to Clare, it appeared as though Ryan's time was up, and so it proved today. His backroom team of Declan Fanning, Conor Stakelum, and John Madden have also stepped down.
The departing management team released the following statement:
On behalf of the Tipperary Senior Hurling Management team we wish to confirm that we are stepping down from our roles with immediate effect.
Having carefully considered what is in the best interest of Tipperary hurling and our current crop of players we believe the time is now right for a change of direction at Management level. It is our hope that a change in management will bring fresh new thinking to ensure Tipperary continues to compete for top honours in the coming years.
We wish to sincerely thank the Tipperary County Board and its Officers for giving us the opportunity 3 years ago to take on the Management of the Senior Hurling Team. We enjoyed some fantastic days and endured some equally disappointing defeats which are all part and parcel of sport at every level. It has been a great honour and privilege for each of us to have been entrusted with these roles.
We are extremely fortunate in Tipperary to have such a positive and active Tipperary Supporters Club which has been supporting Tipperary Hurling at all levels since 1987. Tipperary Supporters Club has given us fabulous support and encouragement and we are very grateful to them for the tireless work they do for the benefit of Tipperary Hurling.
Our backroom team have been key to preparing our players over the last 3 years and we have been exceptionally well served by a fully committed team who did everything within their power to help our players:
We would especially like to acknowledge and thank the Tipperary public who have been fantastic supporters through thick and thin during our Management term.We wish we could have delivered more success particularly this year with the new hurling structures and fantastic hurling that has been played in this year’s Championship.
And finally we wish to thank the players who have worked tirelessly with us and given their all for Tipperary. These are extraordinary young men whose passion and commitment for our game has made working with them so enjoyable and rewarding for us every single night we trained or played our game. We wish the players, the new Management and backroom team every success for 2019 and beyond as we re-join the Tipperary supporters in Semple Stadium and around the country encouraging our players to great victories again.