CLUB AND COUNTY All-Ireland-winning manager Shane Ronayne has brushed off talk of the vacant Cork ladies football job but has not ruled himself out of the running.
Ronayne steered Tipperary to All-Ireland intermediate glory yet again at Croke Park on Sunday, adding to the 2017 title he also oversaw as they beat Meath by five points.
In doing so, the Premier regained their senior status, something Ronayne — who’s also at the helm of All-Ireland club champions Mourneabbey — set out to do this year when he agreed a fresh two-year term last November.
Speaking at captain’s day last week ahead of his side’s All-Ireland final showdown, the Mitchelstown native acknowledged the fact that his name was being thrown around in Cork following the departure of 2016 All-Ireland winning boss Ephie Fitzgerald last month.
“Look, it’s probably only natural,” Ronayne, who worked under the great Eamonn Ryan at Cork, before taking the Tipperary reins ahead of the 2017 season, told The42.
“John Cleary’s name, my own name, Noel O’Connor’s name, there’s others being bandied about as well. That’s the nature of it, and that’s probably the increase in media interest in ladies sport.
A couple of years ago if someone was gone, there’d be no talk about it. It’s only natural that it happens. Anybody who has said it to me, I have my total focus on Tipperary and Mourneabbey at the moment. I haven’t even thought about the Cork job.
“It’s something that I was interested in before, but I genuinely haven’t given it a second’s thought, to be honest. Our total focus has been on getting to this All-Ireland final with Tipperary and we’ve been so busy with Mourneabbey as well, we haven’t even thought about it.
Ronayne with Eamon Ryan in 2014.
Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO
“Whatever happens, happens. In the future, we don’t know. But as I said, my focus has been on Tipperary, I’ve given the commitment to Tipperary and Mourneabbey, and that’s where the focus lies at the moment.”
Hugely successful Cork minor manager John Cleary took the same tone with The Southern Star recently, not ruling out the prospect of following in Fitzgerald’s footsteps.
Understandably, Ronayne’s main concentration was on his Premier side at the time, who achieved their goal from the start of the year of reaching an All-Ireland final in Croke Park again.
It’s been a rollercoaster three years for Tipperary, who won 15 games out of 15 en route to three titles in 2017 and were then promoted to Division 2 and to the senior championship ranks.
Mixed fortunes followed; they won the league and earned Division 1 status but were then dramatically relegated back down to the intermediate ranks after a mixed summer.
Disappointed after 2018 but determined to right the wrongs, a league win over Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn gave the side “great belief” and from there, they retained their Division 1 status and safely navigated through the championship to lift the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup.
And after the game on Sunday in tough conditions, Ronayne stated that he believes his Tipperary side can be a force at senior level.
Clinical despite a few uncharacteristic wides as Aishling Moloney’s 0-8 and goals from Aisling McCarthy and Angela McGuigan steered them back to the top table, Ronayne told the media afterwards:
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Ronayne and his Mourneabbey management team celebrating their All-Ireland final win last December.
Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
To come from where we did this time last year, the depths of depression. It has been a fantastic recovery from them all, recovery from the management. They are back up where they belong. They know they can compete at senior level.
Now, Ronayne’s attention switches to his Cork club outfit, Mourneabbey, and their county semi-final against St Val’s on Saturday.
“They’re all ready to go again,” he added. “There’s fierce enthusiasm within the camp. The Cork girls are looking to get over the disappointment after Dublin [All-Ireland semi-final loss], they felt they didn’t perform and they’re itching to get out on the field with Mourneabbey and try and go two-in-a-row.
But the first thing we’ve got to do is get to that county final. They’re very determined to get there, they want to win six Cork county championships which would be a huge achievement.
“Everybody’s raring to go. Hopefully Noelle [Healy] can come through as well and we’ll have her too, to go full strength against Val’s on the 21st. We’re very happy with where we are at the moment.”
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