After four seasons at the helm, Liam Kearns has stepped down as Tipperary manager. He announced his retirement following his team’s loss to Down in Newry last Sunday which brought Tipperary’s championship season to an end.
They had lost to Limerick in the Munster quarter final and with two championship defeats coming hot on the heels of relegation to Division 3 it was almost a given.
Kearns has had a very successful career at managing inter-county teams. The Kerry native spent six seasons with Limerick bringing the Treaty County to Munster finals in 2003 and 2004. He managed Laois in 2007 and 2008 and was coach to Roscommon under the hand of John Evans before the then Tipp Chairman Joe Hannigan introduced him to Tipperary in the Autumn of 2015.
His impact was immediate. Two victories and three draws brought seven points, not enough to gain promotion from Division 3 but he had his team primed for championship as Tipp beat Waterford in the opener before seven decades of despair came to an end when Tipp beat Cork in the Munster semi final.
Kearns' team failed to beat Kerry in the Munster final but the best was yet to come as Tipp overcame Derry and Galway to reach an All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo in 2016.
Promotion to Division 2 in the 2017 Allianz league was another step in the right direction. The Divisional victory over Louth in Croke Park was a dressing but Tipp didn’t do as well in the championship which finished after a second round qualifier defeat against Armagh at Semple Stadium.
After a break for the 2017 winter the Allianz Football League campaign the following spring allowed the Premier push for promotion to Division 1 in 2018. Unfortunately, they finished in third position.
Fast forward to the League in 2019 where Tipp were bedevilled by too many injuries and the team struggled. As a result they were relegated to the third tier. Injuries continued to hamper preparations for the championship opener against Limerick. Down added to Tipp’s woes last Sunday and Kearns decided that it was time to go.
He will be difficult to replace.