Sacked Stephen Wallace slams 'unbelievable untruth in the media' over losing the dressing room

Stephen Wallace has hit out at the Offaly County Board following his dismissal as their Senior Football manager.

The Faithful County suffered a shock Leinster Championship defeat to Wicklow on Sunday and he was relieved of his duties last night.

Wallace claims he had the backing of the squad, but county board chairman Tommy Byrne says the players had no input in their decision.

Byrne said: "The manager is suspended for what will be a good bit of the remainder of the campaign this year and it's a very difficult situation.

"The manager is central to everything that happens. He (Wallace) cannot be involved in training, cannot be involved in matchdays, and we felt that that wasn't in the best interests of the team.

"Offaly County Board makes the decisions to appoint people or remove them, not the players. There's no point in talking about the players."

The management committee’s decision came as no surprise after the fallout from their Leinster SFC exit. Despite Offaly avoiding relegation from Division 3, there had been speculation of unrest in the camp prior to last weekend, while Wallace’s recent eight-week suspension for his involvement in an altercation in a Kerry club game didn’t help his cause.

However, speaking to the Offaly Express yesterday, Offaly selector Paul Mollen said he was shocked at the criticism aimed at the management team by Irish Examiner columnist Brian Gavin, who had said on Midlands Radio 3 and the We Are Offaly podcast that the positions of Wallace and his assistants were untenable.

Gavin also questioned why Ruairí McNamee was in the panel just three weeks back from Australia, but Mollen argued: “Does he (Gavin) even know the detail of the contact that had taken place between Billy Sheehan, Stephen Wallace, and that man in Australia and the work being done for months before he came back? He was returning GPS stats, training and all the rest while in contact with the camp for months beforehand.”

Mollen, the only Offaly native in the management team, insisted Seán Pender was replaced on the basis of medical advice in order to avoid serious long-term injury. He also denied there was any commotion at half-time during the game.

Regarding Gavin’s claim about a player heave, he said: “I’m finding it hard to fathom that this [criticism], as far as I can see, is coming from one guy (Gavin) and wherever his information is coming from.”

Mollen added: “I’ve been involved in a lot of county and club teams through the years, but I’ve never seen anything like the attention to detail in the set-up since Stephen Wallace, Billy Sheehan, and Brendan Kealy came in.

Wallace was a guest on Off The Ball's new breakfast show, OTB AM, this morning, and he hit out at what he calls lies in the media and says he is the victim of a witch hunt.

"As a manager your major concern is your players, there was unbelievable untruth put out in the media this week that I'd lost the dressing room, players fall-out, players walking out, it couldn't be further from the truth.

The relationship with the county board was strained from day one, they're a difficult board to work with.

"The major sense of injustice here is why was I relieved of my duties? Tommy Byrne has already come out twice since then in the media with the Irish Examiner saying because we lost the game to Wicklow and with RTÉ Sport he says he had to do with my suspension and my inability to do my job."

- Digital Desk

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