‘Never go back’ is a phrase you’ll see referenced to sports teams all over the world though like most things there are probably as many examples where the re-appointment of a manager has worked out well as there are the opposite.
This Sunday in Wexford Park Seamas ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett begins his second term as Laois senior hurling manager in the opening round of the National League.
Having overseen an upturn in Laois’s fortunes when he last took on the job back in the winter of 2012 when the county were close to an all-time low, he again answered the county’s call when he was offered the job last winter in the wake of the Eddie Brennan saga.
Given that his previous spell with Laois hadn’t ended all that well (Plunkett wanted to stay on but couldn’t get agreement on issues with the county board) and that he’d been quite outspoken on Laois GAA at the time of the Brennan controversy, it came as a surprise when he opted to take the job again last winter.
But ahead of this delayed season, he says he’s not interested in looking back to go over old ground; instead learning from those previous experiences and putting it to good use.
“I wouldn’t say I was critical, it was disappointment maybe,” he says in an interview on the LaoisToday Talking Sport Podcast this week.
“Always a big Laois supporter and particularly a great supporter of the players. I was disappointed with where things went but in expressing that disappointment none of us know the detail of these things.
“You can only criticise if you know the facts … just disappointment. If you don’t know details of something you can’t be hugely critical.”
He says it’s a “fantastic honour” to be involved with a Laois team and says when he was asked to do the job again, there was a number of things to consider before he committed.
“Clearly the team themselves wanted to push on,” he adds. “You have to look at yourself. Do you have the energy and drive and do you have a clear idea of where the team needs to go.
“It was an unusual start. I’m not – I use looking back to gain experience and not to go over old coals. I’m interested in looking forward here and see can we push on. We’ve some serious challenges to address – that’s what I’m interested in.
“If you think you’re not able to improve the team and energise the team to where they want to go, well then you shouldn’t put name forward.”
He also says it’s vital that the group of players at his disposal need to be “ambitious, prepared to work hard,” and “open to coaching and maybe doing some things slightly differently”.
And while it’s a different atmosphere he’s coming into this time on the back of two relatively positive years under Eddie Brennan’s management, he’s realistic as to the challenge ahead of them and he says “there’s a huge volume of work to be done”.
“At end of day, Laois beat (only) Carlow last year (they lost all their other eight games in all competitions).
“Look what’s ahead of us. You have the Wexfords, Dublins, Clares, Kilkennys.
“(But) either Loais hurling and this team is ambitious in wanting to take down some of those or it isn’t.
“What matters to me is there an ability to improve, is there an ambition to want to improve and get behind that team and shove it as far as I can.”