Lone Shark wrote:I think it's fair to say that there are a lot of people that come out of this with their reputation(s) damaged. However can I just pose the following questions?
(1) Is it so unreasonable to look at what Stephen Wallace did in that video and say that if it is confirmed that he was the person who threw that punch, that he's not fit to manage a county team? By no stretch of the imagination was that a "heat of the moment" punch. The man in the clip had no altercation with he guy he hit, and blindsided his victim.
(2) If you feel that a dismissal is a reasonable response to the above, then surely it follows that you have to wait until the disciplinary process is complete to act? After all, Stephen Wallace is supposed to have assured Tommy Byrne that he would get off any punishment here. The Offaly CB could hardly let him go before a final determination of guilt was made.
(3) If that finding was made at the weekend, then surely this week is the time to let him go?
(4) Moreover, regardless of guilt or innocence, Wallace is suspended for twelve weeks - i.e. the full championship. If nothing else, surely the match on Sunday proves that not having a manager isn't going to work - a new man must step in?
(5) Finally, Tommy Byrne is not good at interviews - however the crux of his points on the radio seemed to me to be that (i) the Offaly CB couldn't act until the disciplinary process was complete, (ii) the players' letter (which is either unanimous, or the act of a small group, depending on who you listen to) was not factored into the equation, so players were not part of the reason why Wallace was either hired, retained or fired, (iii) that he won't be stepping down just because a management appointment went badly, even though he accepts the buck stops with him. I can't disagree with any of that - am I alone?
LS, can I ask you one question? If Offaly beat Wicklow, do you think he would have been let go this week?
My take on this is as follows. And this is just my take, based on talking to a few people, but having absolutely NO inside information. I have no dog in the fight, other than really wanting Offaly to succeed.
1: I absolutely think that Wallace's actions in Kerry are grounds for dismissal, it's not a good image for a senior county manager to be involved in something like that, and when the video came out I think that action should have been taken then. If that is him in the video, which is the ONLY question that needed to be asked, then he should have been gone then, end of story. As Tommy Byrne said, it is not a disciplinary matter for Offaly GAA, so they are not bound by any rules relating to appeals process, unless they themselves felt they wanted to wait. They could just have easily taken the tack that this was an unwelcome diversion, and the video was damning, therefore we need to proceed without the sideshow. There's no contract in place, no payoff, nothing like that, so it would have been understandable if they had taken the bit between their teeth and said 'Sorry Stephen, this is not a situation we are comfortable with, and we feel it will affect preparation, so we're going to go elsewhere for the Wicklow game'.
My sense is they *didn't* do this, not because they wanted to wait for disciplinary action in Kerry, but because they didn't want to get the blame for 'rocking the boat' at that time.
2: I think that the managerial decisions on Sunday were very strange. From selecting players they obviously didn't trust, or want to use, or weren't ready to use on the bench, to taking players off and bringing them back on when they were obviously not in the right frame of mind, or were very tired. From strange substitutions to not having nominated 2nd and 3rd free takers. I'd love to know when Niall Darby was told to go on frees. However in fairness to Stephen Wallace, all of that is in some way understandable given it's his first Championship match, he's banished to the stand (illegal earpiece or not), and he'd probably learn from it. I don't think Sunday in and of itself was a 'sackable' moment.
3: I think we have all heard about some tension or unhappiness in the camp. Now, how much of that is overblown, I don't know, but it's rare for there to be complete harmony in a camp, especially a camp where results have been patchy at best. The body language on Sunday, especially when those decisions were taken, was not good. The leaks and public posts from the camp since then wouldn't make you think mutiny was about to break out, and while I'm sure there's an element of 'we're not the ones causing the trouble here' in that, I think if there was a genuine movement to remove Wallace, none of that would have come out. I also think Anton Sullivan's interview was fairly clear cut, and I don't think he'd have given one like that if the players genuinely were about to revolt. That said, I didn't get an overall feeling of regret from him that Wallace was gone. Compare and contrast with Ciaran McManus' statement and questions when Gerry Fahy was hard done by in 2003/2004.
4: I think the County Board's history in regard to managers and how they have handled their transition between managers is appalling. From Paul O'Kelly, through Gerry Fahy, Pat Flanagan and numerous others in between, they have shown either very poor faith in their long term projects, or shocking management nous themselves in how they deal with people. To that end, I am very suspicious of how this story has played out through the media, and of the intentions of the board before sunday. I absolutely think Brian Gavin has made the situation worse by his sensationalist contributions in the media, and I know he knows better than that, so I have to think there is method to that.
I believe it's quite simple. Offaly CB regretted appointing Stephen Wallace as soon as the video from Kerry emerged. He hadn't enough credit in the bank after a very patchy league campaign, and there were rumblings in the camp. Both of those factors were not enough to get rid of him, but the incident in Kerry made up their minds that they would do so at the first opportunity. As I said, I would probably have handled it immediately, by asking Stephen if that was him in the video. Straight question. And if it is, you have to get rid of him immediately if you feel that is what needs to be done. If you feel that it's not a sackable offence, then stick with him through the process, and work with him to ascertain how the situation will be managed during the likely suspension.
I believe they didn't have the chutzpah to do that. And so they waited in the long grass until a moment came when they had an opportunity, and then they went for it. They used strategic leaks to make the camp sound in a worse state than it was, and they used the appeals process as a crutch for not doing what they wanted to do immediately.
In my opinion, Stephen Wallace forfeited his right to be manager of a senior inter county team the moment he threw that punch down in Kerry. But when the video emerged, that was the time to make that call, one way or another.
To answer my question to you LS, above, I personally don't feel that Wallace would have been sacked if Offaly had beaten Wicklow, and that leaves a sour taste in the mouth, largely because of the CB's past record in this area.
Shane Gavin. Signed out of respect for players and all involved with Offaly.