John Kiely is well able to speak up for himself, as Eddie Kirwan’s interview on page seven confirms. However, there’s little doubt that his parting of the ways with Waterford was handled badly by the mysterious ‘Coiste Pheil’. There’s never an easy way to tell someone their time is up, but John deserved a more dignified exit.
After all, this is a man who never looked for a bob in expenses (he wouldn’t last long in charge of the hurlers) and turned Waterford from a team who couldn’t win a game into one which went into every match with a realistic chance of victory – despite having one hand tied behind their back by the prioritisation of hurling. (Though the fact that new County Secretary Timmy O’Keeffe of Clashmore is a former county football goalkeeper should help tilt the balance in their favour you would think.)
People might question Kiely’s ‘modern coaching’ credentials, and that wasn’t his strong suit (which is why he was happy and intelligent enough to surround himself with expert help) but he was a players’ manager, a facilitator first and foremost, a motivator through trust. (And his open, helpful attitude to the media is in sharp contrast to the paranoid self-servitude of others one could mention.) It can’t be just a coincidence that seven of his players wore the Munster colours during his five years at the helm, or that, to a man, they phoned to say thanks during the past week.
Incoming bainisteoir John Owens, who’s been training Rathgormack of late, may well bring a freshness to the set-up, and he’s highly thought of in Tipp, but he’ll do well to engender the same bond with a group of lads who for so long were made to feel like second-class citizens until Kiely brought their expectations up a notch.
Hopefully ‘Jackson’ be back in the game before long, because as he said in another interview in this paper only two weeks ago, just as good Gaelic football coaches are thin on the ground, ones with charisma (and Barcelona baseball caps) are fewer still.
See The Munster Express newspaper for more Fullback stories.