Jackie Tyrrell is one of the most decorated GAA players of all time, having won eleven Leinster titles, nine All-Irelands, six National Hurling Leagues and four All-Stars during his playing career.
Behind one of the most successful GAA players ever though, was simply the best hurling manager ever to grace the sideline in Brian Cody.
The legendary Kilkenny corner-back lined out for the Black and Amber for a total of 14 seasons, playing under Cody since making his senior debut in 2003.
It is a well-known fact that Cody always managed to get the best out of his players. Even when there wasn’t as much expectation he still seemed to pull something out of the bag. Yet, after 19 years at the helm, 2017 marks one of the first seasons where there are questions surrounding his future in charge of the Cats.
After losing to Wexford in the Leinster semi-final this year, questions were asked. Even though many argued that if there was one man to lift Kilkenny out of the doldrums it would be Cody, others argued that he could do no more with Kilkenny and would only tarnish his impeccable sporting reputation.
Speaking on TV3’s The Six O’Clock Show on Wednesday evening, Tyrrell was asked a very specific question:
“When Brian Cody retires, who will become the next manager?”
Judging by Tyrrell’s reaction, the question was definitely not rehearsed and he found himself trying to dodge the question with some smooth talking and comparisons.
“That’s a tough question, it’s kind of like the Alex Ferguson era when he left Man United because he’s been there for so long,” he stated.
However, when he was prompted for a definitive answer, he could only manage to round the potential opening down to three of the likeliest contenders, as seen below in order of who crossed his mind first.
- James McGarry
- Martin Fogarty
- Eddie Brennan
It is no surprise to note that all the three mentioned are Kilkenny locals who have had success with the Cats. All three tipped by Tyrrell also have all-important managerial experience behind them too.
McGarry was apart of the successful Ballyhale Shamrocks joint-management team in 2009, while in recent seasons he was announced as a selector for Kilkenny along with Derek Lyng and Michael Dempsey.
Fogarty was also one of Cody’s side-kicks, but now his primary focus is as the GAA national hurling development manager. That being said, he is certainly still an experienced contender if the role was to become vacant in the near future.
While Eddie Brennan has only stepped into management in recent seasons with the Kilkenny U-21s, this year he guided an impressive Cats side to a Leinster title for the first time since 2012. That Kilkenny team now await Ulster champions Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final. An All-Ireland victory would increase his chances of becoming the next man in charge of the Kilkenny seniors.
Even though Cody may be staying on for one more season at least, his reign will not last forever and the discussion about the future manager has to begin somewhere.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena