Monday 21 January 2019

Faithful chiefs will have their say after Offaly exit

OFFALY county board chiefs have promised a full response to claims that they prevented the Faithful's senior hurlers from training in O'Connor Park last Saturday -- but they won't get embroiled in any tit-for-tit battle while Joe Dooley's team is still involved in the championship.

The Offaly management committee met last night to discuss the crisis and afterwards issued a short statement, saying they will "issue a full and frank response in relation to the issues currently in the public domain regarding Offaly senior hurlers when -- and only when -- we complete our current Liam MacCarthy Cup campaign."

The Offaly executive has been put on the back foot by the decision of Dooley and his squad to write a letter to the board and clubs of Offaly, stressing that they don't want to train at the main county ground again and, if possible, don't want to play there either.

The underlying message is that the Offaly hurling community craves a return to their spiritual 'home' of St Brendan's Park in Birr, which has been out of commission in recent years, undergoing a major facelift.

It's understood the board will take issue with claims that the hurlers were actually denied the right to train in Tullamore last Saturday (the suggestion is they arrived early while an underage skills competition was taking place). However, the ensuing flashpoint has prompted an onslaught of criticism from two former All-Ireland winning team-mates of the current manager.

"In my opinion the board are far more interested in servicing the debt on O'Connor Park than they are in the promotion of hurling," claimed Dáithí Regan. "They'll want O'Connor Park looking well on Saturday (Leinster semi-final, Dublin and Galway clash) - and that is right and proper too. They'll give you all the sound bites about 'directors of hurling' and whatever else, but the decisions about what is best for Offaly hurling are not being made."

Michael Duignan claimed last Saturday was the "straw that broke the camel's back". Describing Tullamore as a "fantastic development", Duignan added: "I was one of the people on the fundraising committee that raised €1.2m for O'Connor Park and I certainly didn't raise that money or put in the effort that I did, so that county teams would be locked out of the facility."

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