Blog: Micko could turn Munster on its head

Talking Point
07 January 2013

Could Mick O'Dwyer alter the landscape in Munster football, just as he shock Leinster to it's core over a ten year period?

Mick O'Dwyer's reign as Clare football manager began yesterday and the Banner registered 1-20 in a facile 18-point victory over Limerick IT. The genial Waterville man was quick to play down the significance of the display in McGrath Cup win, but the manner of victory was still enough to make people stand up and take note.

An eight time All-Ireland winner on the sideline, O'Dwyer is without question the greatest football manager of all time. However, there are many who argue that the biggest impact he had on Gaelic Games was nothing to do with Kerry, but rather the effect he has had on Leinster football.

When he first joined up with Kildare in 1991, Leinster football was a dominated by three counties - Dublin, Meath and Offaly. Indeed, while Dublin were always strong, Meath and Offaly seemed to share their periods of dominance, to such a level that Leinster was usually never more than a two horse race.

For 40 years, between 1958 and 1997, Dublin (19), Meath (10) and Offaly (10) shared 39 Leinster SFC titles between them, with Longford in 1968 being the odd one out. It was a cosy cartel that took Micko two terms with Kildare to crack.

The Liliywhites became a competitive force once again, getting to the 1991 NFL final in his first year in charge while Leinster final appearances followed in 1992 and '93. Dublin kept them down but Micko returned for a second spell and Kildare ended their 42-year wait for provincial honours in 1998. A second title followed in 2000 and the face of Leinster football had changed completely.

Not content with bringing just Kildare to the party, Micko promptly moved to Laois and in 2003 ended the O'Moore men's 57 year wait to get their hands on the Delaney Cup. His groundwork undoubtedly paved the way for Westmeath and Paidi O Se to land a historic Leinster title the following year.

From there he went to Wicklow, and while there was to be no provincial glory, O'Dwyer ignited a belief in the Garden County that could still bear fruit.

No one man has ever done more to change the landscape in a province, leaving a trail of belief and confidence that shook Dublin, Meath and Offaly to their core.

All of Kerry seemed to revel in the success of their former manager in the eastern province, but the smile could be on their other side of their faces if Micko now enjoys similar success in Munster.

In the last 100 year, all but six Munster titles have been shared between Cork and Kerry. Clare's famous win in 1992 sticks in the memory but you have to go back to 1935, when Tipperary defeated Cork, for the previous time the title avoided the big two.

If Micko could instil in Clare the belief he left in Kildare and Laois, then who is to say that Munster football could be about to change for good. People laughed at such a notion when he first moved to Leinster, but he pulled the rabbit out of the hat not once, but on three occasions.

The big question now is how would his fellow Kerry men take to the notion of Micko upsetting the cart in Munster? Only time will tell.


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