The year so far

A forum to air your views on Offaly GAA matters and beyond.

The year so far

Postby Spiderman » Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:57 am

The long and winding road...
So as April draws slowly to a close and the championship draws ever closer, yet another manager and his backroom team are forced out of the Offaly football set-up. Following swiftly on the heels of Tom Cribben, Meath man Gerry Cooney tendered his resignation to the county board following a players and management meeting at the Bridge House Hotel on Thursday last.

Cooney, a member of the Meath squad that won two all-Ireland football titles in 1987 & 1989 respectively, lasted just 6 months at the helm of Offaly Football having been appointed last November by a five man selection committee. So the question remains where did it all go wrong for Cooney and the faithful county?
From the off, Cooney’s appointment was covered in controversy with the selection process dragging on for months and a number of front runners for the job deciding to pull the plug in total disgust and dissatisfaction with the entire process - men including Darby, Coffey and Sheedy all deciding to retract their names in total frustration and anger in how they were being treated. After a long and arduous process, the selection committee eventually came to a conclusion and decided that the management team to lead Offaly into battle come the summer would consist of Meath’s Gerry Cooney, Clara’s James ‘ginger’ Stewart, Edenderry’s Tony Kenny and Offaly’s last all-star Cathal Daly.

As the core of the panel began training pre-Christmas early January in the gym, many faithful followers began questioning Cooney’s decision to clear-out many of the older folk on the panel namely Ciarain McManus, Scott Brady and Karol Slattery – all three having worn the Offaly on numerous big occasions in the past and in my opinion could have offered this young and inexperienced group of players with so much to prepare them for the road ahead. Despite the speculation, none of the three were asked to join the panel however early murmurings indicated that the entire set-up was going down well among the players.

Fast forward to early February and Offaly visited Glennon Brothers Pearce Park in Longford for the first round of the National Football League – in a game which Offaly started brightly Offaly crumbled to a crushing defeat 2-15 to 8 points – a poor outing which in my opinion set the tone for the rest of the league campaign. Perhaps the less said about the league the better as Offaly slumped to four more defeats, picking up just one win on their travels away to Cavan. Wexford, Roscommon, Antrim and Tipp all inflicted defeats to send Offaly packing and down to the level that this team was currently operating at under Cooney. In each of these games Offaly lacked the basic fundamentals of a good football team. Without going into it indiscipline (3 red cards and the most yellows by a country mile in division 3), a poor game plan, individualism, and a lack of basic football skill appeared to be among a list of problems that brought this Offaly team crashing down to division 4.

During this time, the problems began to seep in with Cathal Daly deciding withdraw his services for whatever unknown reason. Daly was followed by players including Richie Dalton, Ross Brady, Sean Pender, Ger Tracey, and Niall Smith all of whom decided to leave the panel for reasons yet again unknown to many. With work commitments being cited for one of the main reasons for players deciding to leave, it began to become ever apparent that unrest was beginning to set-in among the players. This problem was most recently compounded by the news that Walsh Islands Brian Connor has decided to opt out of the panel, instead deciding to return to the US for presumably for some work and football. This must of came as another devastating blow for Cooney with Connor having kicked four points from play against Tippereary. Such absentee’s, injuries and the U21’s reaching a Leinster semi-final following a successful run did not help Cooney’s cause. Reports from the camp suggested that numbers were poor at training during this time, and players began to become disgruntled and unhappy.

So the questions remain – who is at fault for this mess with some blaming the county board, others blaming players and their lack of commitment, and many blaming Gerry Cooney and his backroom team. If you were to ask me, I believe that collectively – the Offaly County Board, the Management team, the players and unfortunately the faithful following are to blame for this current crisis that Offaly Football once again finds itself in.

County Board
The County Board for the past decade have sat idle as the standards within the county plummeted, with the entire structure of football from underage to senior within the county being out-dated. In my opinion, the county board has a lot to answer and an entire clear-out of the top delegates is required – these need to be re-placed with young and energetic men who have a passion for Offaly GAA – too many old heads are hanging on in their for the benefit of themselves. If Offaly is ever to compete for a Leinster title in the next 100 years, the football scene needs some serious time and investment right across the board.

Management & Players
The team management have a lot to answer for with far too many rash decisions being made, and for producing a team that simply could not compete in division 3 of the league. I’ve heard may stories floating around about the management some positive, some negative but the simple facts are that they were not up to the task – no matter how difficult the players are or are not to manage! I believe this because I have never seen a team as unprepared in years. Offaly played one good game this year and that wasn’t against Cavan, but against Division 1 side Laois. Reports suggest that Offaly were outstanding against a very strong Laois team and Offaly actually played open-expansive football as they played a quick and open brand of football – why wasn’t this style of play adapted to and worked on after this game?.
Offaly players being Offaly players come in for a lot of criticism however they too have a lot to answer for (forget drink because from what I hear this for once has not been a problem this year). Nearly all of the games I’ve been to this there has been at least 10 lads injured on the line, and is something that surely must of been questioned by Cooney? Week-in, week-out too many of the same players appeared to ne ‘injured’ – some genuine, some not. Despite this, I think it is unfair to brandish all players as being un-interested and lacking desire, as I can think of many that appear to give 100% week-in, week-out.

The Faithful Followers
When things are down everyone is down on you and when things are going well everyone once a piece of you – this is my opinion and I believe that some fans bring too much negativity to the football scene at present. Both players and management never intend on performing badly, so why throw the boot in while things are on the floor? Offaly at the minute needs their fans more than ever.

So where does this leave us now ....... where do we go from here? In my opinion the county board need to hold their hands-up and now go and appoint a manager that will be respected by both players and fans. Perhaps it is time to try a high-profile manager? Everyone claims that the county board simply could not afford this type of manager. This is a valid point however I believe bringing in a prolific manager that could get the team competing again which would slowly get the faithful following believing again. With the returning crowds comes more gate receipts to actually fund the manager and create a hype in Offaly that is badly needed.
As this saga rumbles on, the lilywhites lick their lips in anticipation of a sunny Sunday in may.......here’s hoping the county board react quickly and with a manager that can make us compete.
Spiderman
Junior C
 
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