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Baker up for leap of faith

OLLIE Baker will become the fourth member of the successful Clare hurling team of the '90s to take the plunge into inter-county management after he was identified as the choice of the Offaly County Board to succeed Joe Dooley as the Faithful's senior supremo.

Baker will follow in the footsteps of Anthony Daly (Clare and Dublin), Davy Fitzgerald (Waterford and soon to be Clare) and Ger 'Sparrow' O'Loughlin (Clare) in taking over a senior county side after the Offaly County Board appointments committee recommended he be ratified as manager, replacing Dooley, who left after an underwhelming four-year term in top office.



Experience

Baker, who has recent inter-county experience as a selector with Clare and Antrim, will be officially ratified at the next meeting of the board in November and has brought Wolfe Tones club man Alan Cunningham on board as his coach.

He will announce his selectors in the coming days.

A fifth member of that Clare team could also be thrust into the managerial coalface, with legendary full-back Brian Lohan tipped to be revealed as part of Fitzgerald's new Banner backroom team.

Fitzgerald's appointment will be rubber-stamped by club delegates tonight, at which point he will outline his plans for his term and unveil his selectors.

Former Clare and Galway senior hurling trainer Louis Mulqueen will be part of the new set-up along with Cratloe senior hurling manager, Mike Deegan. Lohan has also been touted as a potential selector.

In Antrim, meanwhile, Jerry Wallace has been chosen by the County Board to replace his former sideline cohort Dinny Cahill as manager.

Wallace, who served under Cahill as the Saffrons' physical trainer for the past three years, was handed a two-year stint by the board.

Elsewhere, the Fermanagh County Board have confirmed that John O'Neill has stepped down as manager. A statement released last night thanked O'Neill for his "work with the county panel throughout what was a difficult year for Gaelic football" in the county.

The Ernesiders finished fourth in Division 4 of the league but exited the championship at the first hurdle after a raft of senior players refused to play under O'Neill's management.