James Dempsey may not be part of Offaly plans for 2018

New Offaly hurling manager Kevin Martin could be without highly-rated goalkeeper James Dempsey for 2018.
James Dempsey may not be part of Offaly plans for 2018

It’s understood that the experienced stopper, who lined out for Leinster in the 2016 Interprovincial final, isn’t planning on returning to county duty next season.

With Martin’s appointment viewed as a done deal after he was recommended for the position, the Faithful panel have already begun preparations for 2018.

Dempsey, who debuted in 2010, has not been part of those early plans, though hopes are high that Daniel Currams and Conor Mahon, two former Offaly stalwarts, will return. The duo are currently on club duty with Kilcormac-Killoughey, who face Mount Leinster Rangers of Carlow in the AIB Leinster club semi-finals on November 19.

Currams has played 48 times for Offaly in league and championship, though last featured at county level in the qualifier loss to Clare in July of 2015. Clubmate Mahon hasn’t played for Offaly since the summer of 2014, when he started in attack against Tipperary.

Belmont’s Colin Egan didn’t play in 2017 either, but it’s hoped he will also return after a year out.

Two-time All-Ireland winner Martin has been recommended to take the management role by the committee set up to find Kevin Ryan’s successor and a county board rubber-stamp is anticipated. It’s believed the ex-Westmeath manager will be open to a dual player arrangement regarding forward Nigel Dunne and that an approach has been made to the player.

Dunne top-scored for Offaly with 0-5 in both their Leinster SFC quarter-final replay loss to Westmeath and their qualifier defeat to Cavan last summer. It remains to be seen if Dunne fancies balancing codes, with most players concluding it’s not feasible in the modern game.

Offaly are due to begin their Allianz hurling league Division 1B campaign with a high-profile trip to Croke Park on January 27 to face Pat Gilroy’s Dublin.

Meanwhile, Galway native Gavin Keary will replace Dónal Óg Cusack as Clare hurling coach. The former Loughrea player was introduced to the Clare players at training last weekend and steps into one of the most high profile positions in the game.

Cusack was brought to Clare by former boss Davy Fitzgerald, but stepped down last month after two years in the role.

Interviews took place over the last fortnight, with Keary emerging as the preferred candidate to replace the Cork legend. Keary was part of Galway’s minor management team, headed up by Jeffrey Lynskey, for All-Ireland wins in 2015 and 2017.

He jointly managed Ireland’s U21s more recently in the annual hurling/shinty international.

It’s the final appointment to Clare’s management team, which will be headed up again by Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor.

Keary, Jimmy Browne, Kieran Corcoran and Liam Cronin are all titled coaches, while Kelvin Harold will look after strength-and-conditioning.

Clare are one of four counties that will compete in the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic on November 19, with a semi-final tie against Tipperary scheduled for Fenway Park, Boston.

New Dublin manager Pat Gilroy will be without experienced forward David O’Callaghan, 34, who has confirmed his retirement. O’Callaghan returned from back surgery in October of 2016 to compete in this year’s championship and featured in ties against Galway, Laois and Tipperary. A former Dublin footballer, ‘Dotsy’ was involved with Dublin teams for 15 years and won Leinster and Allianz League hurling medals in 2013 and 2011 under Anthony Daly.

“A special mention to my family for putting up with my mood swings before big games,” said O’Callaghan in a statement.

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