The adage that all political careers end in failure probably could be equally applied to all sports coaches’ careers, if they remain around long enough. However, to even imply that Eddie O’Sullivan’s record, which included the lifting of three Triple Crowns, constitutes a failure, is absurd, as Eddie presided over the most successful period in the history of the game here, and his winning achievements are unlikely ever to be emulated.
To belittle these outstanding achievements,as some media commentators have done, by claiming that the triple crown is now a devalued currency, is surely disingenuous. The writer of these notes is regrettably old enough to recall a period, in excess of thirty years, when Ireland won no triple crown, so to achieve three in the past six years, as O’Sullivan did, is exceptional.
Perhaps the one lesson to come from this entire episode is that International coaches, probably in all codes, should have a shelf life of around four years, and that a parting of the ways at that stage is probably mutually beneficial. As Eddie O’Sullivan departs, the profile of rugby in the entire country was never higher, and he is entitled to take a considerable amount of the credit for this.
He made some selectorial and tactical mistakes in the past year, by over-adhering to the mantra that ‘if it is not broken don’t fix it’, and by putting too much faith in a few players who had passed their peak, but his record speaks for itself. Even his most trenchant critics will have to concede that he will be a hard act to follow. Who should replace him? In a word, Kidney.