Offaly GAA in the wars

Thursday, 13 July 2017

THE Offaly GAA County Board found itself embroiled in controversy and making headlines for the wrong reasons after a traumatic week.

Pat Flanagan was voted out as the county's senior football manager while an important hurling implementation committee resigned, leaving a sense of crisis surrounding the small ball game. And in another twist to the week, the Birr GAA chairman and secretary, Willie Rigney and Dave Bolger stormed out of an Offaly GAA County Board meeting after clashing with chairman Tommy Byrne about the fixing of big club games for St Brendan's Park.

Flanagan's term as manager came to an abrupt, if not unexpected, end at a County Board meeting after delegates voted unanimously to accept a recommendation from a county team management review committee that he not be reappointed.

With Flanagan reacting angrily to his dismissal and expressing his dismay both at the way he was removed as manager and the back up support during his three years in charge, the board barely had time to digest that when the news broke that the hurling committee had opted to step down.

The Hurling Implementation Committee is chaired by Coolderry native Liam Hogan and includes Liam Hogan as chairperson, Marion Crean, David Kenny, Brian Carroll, Michael Verney, Mary Wyer and Ger Scales along with County Board personnel Martin Cashen (Coaching Officer), Tom Moloney (Head of Operations), Tommy Byrne (chairman) and Eamon Cusack (secretary) and the non County Board officials have resigned, citing their frustration at the board last week.

Carroll, Kenny and Verney have been members of the Offaly senior hurling panel up until quite recently, and the committee had been endeavouring to put proposals and plans in place to improve the standard of Offaly hurling at all levels.

The departure of Flanagan made national headlines after he came out with all guns blazing following the decision to seek a new manager

A review committee of County Board chairman Tommy Byrne, secretary Eamon Cusack, Vinny Claffey (Doon), Colm Quinn (Ballycumber) and Paul Mollen (Ferbane) recommended that Flanagan be replaced and was accepted at a stormy board meeting, where Flanagan's request for a meeting with clubs was not granted and delegates expressed anger that he hadn't been given a chance to meet the committee.

Manager for the last three years during which Offaly won Division 4 of the National Football League, consolidated their position in Division 3 and won a first Leinster Senior Football Championship game since 2008, Flanagan was told by County Board chairman Tommy Byrne on the night before the meeting that they were recommending that he be replaced as he paid the price for a very disappointing championship campaign this season.

On Wednesday, Flanagan complained that he learnt of the full County Board decision to seek new management when his wife saw an item on social media on Tuesday night week last - Tommy Byrne had told him the previous night that the review committee were recommending that a new manager be appointed.

He outlined a number of grievances with the board, complaining that 4,000 euros worth of gym equipment he has asked for hadn't been provided and he was told in February that the money wouldn't be provided for it.

* he hadn't been given a video analysis programme and GPS tracking systems he had requested;

* there was an ongoing issue with expenses due to management and strength and conditioning coach, Dave Hare.

He also complained that a request to have management assessed by a former manager such as Sean Boylan or Tommy Lyons had not been granted and instead the board had provided former Offaly footballer, Vinny Claffey.

Flanagan also expressed his disappointment that a request to run weekend forums to oversee the development of all Offaly teams and get them playing a set style of football from underage into senior ranks had not been acted upon along with a request to run a parish championship, similar to Kerry, alongside the existing championship.

Offaly GAA chairman Tommy Byrne decided not to respond to Flanagan's specific complaints, saying that he was not getting into a tit for tat exchange.

The controversies occurred in a week in which Birr GAA Club chairman, Willie Rigney and secretary Dave Bolger walked out of the Offaly GAA County Board meeting after a furious clash with Tommy Byrne when they attempted to make a case for having big Offaly Senior Hurling Championship games in St Brendan's Park in Birr.

See page 68 for reports on all three controversies.




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