herald

Thursday 19 April 2018

'I will ll be lucky if Offaly win again in my lifetime'- Dooley

Offaly hurling legend Joe Dooley at the recent Electric Ireland Minor Star Award launch. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Offaly hurling legend Joe Dooley at the recent Electric Ireland Minor Star Award launch. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

These are the bleakest of times for Offaly hurling.

Last week saw the crippling double blows of Kevin Ryan's exit as their senior manager after just one season in charge and the resignation en masse of a hurling review committee established to halt the decay of standards in the county.

The report, 18 months in the making, highlighted a lack of an overall coaching plan in the county as well as the failure to come close to the GAA's recommended ratio of coaches to players at underage level.

Previously, it was left to gather dust between December 2014 and last May when it was reluctantly endorsed.

The group, chaired by former Ballyboden St Enda's manager Liam Hogan, stepped down in frustration at the county board's failure to implement their recommendations, reflecting a wider dissatisfaction with the board.

In the same week, Offaly's football manager, Pat Flanagan, revealed he found out about his effective sacking from the role when his wife saw a story on Twitter.

"To get back to winning anything major I'll be lucky if it happens in my lifetime I'd say now," says former Offaly star and manager, Joe Dooley.

Admire

"It's going to take a good number of years."

Dooley is 53 now and doesn't expect to see the sort of glory days he enjoyed as a player in the 1990s return any time soon.

"It's a tough time to be involved and you have to admire the players who are sticking with it and wearing the jersey," he explains, and continuing to put in the effort.

"It's not easy. I think we have accepted we are where we are and we just need to do something about it."

Ryan's resignation from the manager's job was a further destabilising and unexpected development.

The Waterford native explained that he didn't feel he would receive enough "local and traditional support" to continue in the role, hinting at a reluctance to change the culture within the county.

This time last year, Eamonn Kelly walked similarly away from the post after just one season for stated work reasons only to later be appointed manager of Laois.

Not that either had overseen any immediate upsurge.

This year, Offaly lost by 19 points to Galway in Leinster and 24 to Waterford in the qualifiers.

Kelly, meanwhile, oversaw a 14-point defeat to Westmeath in his only season at the helm while even the presence of the iconic Brian Whelahan as manager for the two seasons before that couldn't prevent the sort of morale-sapping losses Offaly have endured at all levels since the turn of the decade.

"We haven't won anything of any consequence at all at any level," as Dooley explained.

"Unless we are lucky and we get a sprinkling of guys from different teams ... but there isn't any really good team coming through even at schools level.

"Basically at the moment the guys are just keeping it going and in fairness to them they are doing that.

Negative

"There are a lot of lads the have given great service over the last eight or ten years putting in the effort.

"When I was hurling with Offaly every year we started out we expected to win a Leinster or maybe an All-Ireland it was just the way we were programmed and we had the players to do it.

Dooley adds: "But in his case everything is negative and I'm probably being negative myself even but that's the reality of it and to be able to stay playing under that kind of negativity is not easy

"At the moment we are in a valley and we need to get out of it. It's not going to happen any time soon," concluded the three-time All-Ireland SHC winner.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News