herald

Sunday 25 September 2016

Liam was one of lreland's heroes

The late Liam Tuohy, pictured here back in 2010 at the launch of an alcove in his honour at the FAI’s headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Pic: Sportsfile
The late Liam Tuohy, pictured here back in 2010 at the launch of an alcove in his honour at the FAI’s headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Pic: Sportsfile

Liam Tuohy's contribution to Irish football is unsurpassed. He was one of life's heroes and an icon to me.

To name him as "one of the greats" just doesn't really do him justice.

I've spoken many times in the past about how the great football men in England caught my eye when I was young and how much they meant to a wide-eyed Dublin lad with a passion for football.

Names like Deans, Mortenson and Carter filled my boyhood dreams and inspired me to think about a career as a professional football.

But Liam was an icon for me from the very start.

Top class

He was a local hero I looked up to as a player. He was a top class left-winger who could score a goal and as the years rolled on and his career changed from playing to management, my admiration for him grew.

He was a part of Coad's Colts, that great Shamrock Rovers team created by Paddy Coad which won 19 trophies between 1954 and 1959.

There was plenty of interest in him across in England but he chose to stay in Dublin until 1960 when Charlie Mitten convinced him to sign for Newcastle.

He had three years at Newcastle before he came back and rejoined Rovers as a player before eventually taking over as player-manager when Sean Thomas left the club.

That was the era of the great Rovers six-in-a-row team which had a remarkable winning run in the FAI Cup between 1964 and 1969 and Liam was in charge for five of them.

He was an obvious candidate when the FAI wanted to replace Mick Meegan as international manager and I really enjoyed playing for him wearing the green of Ireland.

We had only recently emerged from an era in which a committee picked the team. Mick was the first manager to gain full control of selection and Liam brought the process of change along.

In fact, I would have been more than happy to see him stay on as manager when he quit in 1973.

He was Shamrock Rovers boss again at the time and also held down a full-time job with HB so something had to give and I always regretted the fact that he gave up his position as Ireland boss.

Strength

He was an old-style coach who didn't clutter young players minds with unnecessary advice.

His great strength was his reliance on common sense. He never complicated anything and he had a big store of football knowledge.

That's a formidable combination and he used it so well throughout his coaching career. Everyone who came in contact with him gained from the experience.

His work with Ireland's under-age teams showed just how capable he was and he helped inspire Brian Kerr who went on to break new ground by winning European competitions.

His time with Irish under-age teams ended with Jack Charlton's arrival and his decision to take over Liam's team talk at Elland Road in 1986 was crass.

Apart from anything else, it wasn't a smart thing to do on a purely practical level because Liam had made fantastic progress with our under-age teams and would have continued with that had he not been interrupted.

Liam being Liam, he stepped aside with no fuss and went back to Home Farm where he continued to dispense wisdom and advice for generation after generation of schoolboy footballers.

All the time, the one constant was his passion for football. Few have matched it over the years.

Liam will be missed by his close family most of all but the entire football family will mourn his passing.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Promoted articles

Entertainment News