Michael Duignan has said he will continue working for RTÉ if elected chairman of Offaly County Board.
The two-time All-Ireland winner, dismayed at the lows to which Offaly have sunk in recent years, is contesting the position of county board chair - a head-to-head with incumbent Tommy Byrne - at county convention on Tuesday, December 10.
Duignan's RTÉ contract has yet to be renewed ahead of the new season, but if the offer of work from the national broadcaster does arise in 2020, he will not say no, even if he is successful in securing the top job in Offaly GAA tomorrow week.
The former All-Star does not believe working for RTÉ while serving as Offaly county board chairman would lead to a potential conflict of interest.
“I was on RTÉ when I was still playing in 1996. I was giving my views against lads I was playing against. It is part of my livelihood. I have two sons going to college, I have bills to pay. I can't afford to opt out of the media, should they want me,” Duignan told Midlands 103.
“The way the media has gone, your opinions are sought very, very quickly. If I am in the role of chairman and there is something to be dealt with, I will have to deal with it immediately. It is going to be highly unlikely that it will ever be in The Sunday Game studio that I am dealing with an issue that has arisen in Offaly.”
Current chairman Tommy Byrne, who is seeking to extend his second term in the post to a fourth year, believes the decline of Offaly GAA, which has seen the senior hurlers suffer successive relegations and, in the process, drop to the third-tier Christy Ring Cup, has been arrested.
“We are where we are. I am not shirking responsibility as I was involved [in recent years], but there has been a decline. I think we have that stopped,” Byrne said in a separate interview with Midlands 103.
“We have very good management in place for all our teams, not just the manager, but the high calibre people they have attracted into their coaching teams. We are putting everything we could possibly put into place for the teams, within reason. The players now are happy training with Offaly.”
Byrne added: “We are making change happen for the last few years. We would be making a lot of improvements across everything [the county board deals with].”
Duignan does not agree with his rival’s assertion that the rot has been stopped.
“If anything, we are going worse. We have gone from the Liam MacCarthy to the Joe McDonagh to the Christy Ring. We are nearly at a stage now where we are being pitied by other counties.
“If somebody can't see this has been a decline, and this has been under Tommy's stewardship. I am not blaming Tommy for all of that because there are other people involved, but leadership has to come from the top. Nobody is questioning the commitment of anyone involved [in the county board], but we are questioning their decision-making, their strategic thinking, and the way we are going about our business. We need a change of direction from the top.”
Duignan is part of a four-man ticket who have put themselves forward for various county board positions. The other three are Colm Cummins (vice-chair), Dervill Dolan (treasurer) and Brian Gavin (Leinster Council delegate). If Duignan is beaten by Byrne, then Cummins, Dolan, and Gavin will withdraw their names on the night from the various posts they are nominated for.
“Without me being there, the others feel they won't be listened to or make a real difference,” explained Duignan.
“I think if this was a public vote, we'd be home and hosed. What we are saying to people is not to be afraid of change.”