Baker resigns from Offaly role

Ollie Baker's spell in charge of the Offaly senior hurlers is over after two years in charge. The former All-Star midfielder from Clare will not be seeking a third year with the Faithful county.

Baker's decision to step down was announced at an Offaly County Board meeting last night, just over three months after they were knocked out of the All-Ireland SHC qualifiers by Waterford.

Under Baker Offaly managed to maintain their Division 1B status through 2012 and 2013, winning five of their 10 Allianz League games and also posting a draw with Limerick.

Finishing third in both seasons was a solid achievement given that players from Leinster club champions Coolderry and Kilcormac-Killoughey, who both lost All-Ireland Club SHC finals in the past two years, were unavailable during the league campaigns.

Commenting on Baker's departure, Offaly GAA Chairman Padraig Boland stated: "Ollie Baker is a man of the highest integrity and while an extremely formidable negotiator on behalf of his players, it was always in an environment of openness and honesty.

"He displayed tremendous respect for the needs of clubs and was a keen proponent of county players being available to their clubs throughout the year.

"He gave youth its chance with numerous Championship and league debuts a feature of his tenure, while also offering others a second chance at an inter-county career."

Baker's best Championship result with the Faithfuls came last year when they recorded a long-awaited Leinster quarter-final victory over Wexford, before losing to Cork in the qualifiers.

Munster opposition also ended Offaly's Championship hopes this summer, with Waterford proving too strong in the preliminary round of the qualifiers.

However, given the level of performance Baker's side produced against Kilkenny in the Leinster Championship in particular - they scored four goals against the Cats - some have reflected on this Championship being one of 'missed opportunities' for the Faithfuls.

"Both Championship matches this year illustrated the pride that remains at the core of Offaly hurling, both on and off the field," added Boland.

"Failure to close the deal, having done so well to create the opportunity, is possibly more about lack of individual inner belief than any lack of ability or capacity."

A four-man committee will now be put in place to seek out a suitable successor to Baker, with former Offaly hurler Danny Owens, who guided Kilcormac-Killoughey to that provincial crown last season, and Tipperary's Ken Hogan, who oversaw Coolderry's Leinster success, already being linked with the job.

Whatever the immediate future holds for Offaly hurling, Boland was keen to pay tribute to the outgoing management team and the playing squad for their contributions both on the field and off it.

"At a time when many potential Offaly players were unavailable for selection and the engagement of personnel to support the efforts of players wasn't always easy, I sincerely thank all those who gave such commitment to Offaly over the past two years.

"The sacrifices required of our players and management are the same as for this year's All-Ireland finalists, both of whom we've pushed to their limits over the past two years.

"I sincerely thank each player and management team member for that sacrifice and their immense contribution to Offaly hurling. In particular I want to thank Ollie Baker and to wish him, Michelle and their young family all the very best for the future."

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