Gavin claims Wallace has lost Offaly dressing room

Pressure continues to mount on Offaly football manager Stephen Wallace following their Leinster SFC defeat to Wicklow on Sunday.

Gavin claims Wallace has lost Offaly dressing room

Rhode’s Alan McNamee, who played over 100 times for the county, tweeted on Sunday: “An awful pity to see one the best footballers in the county, Johnny Moloney on the terraces today. And our ‘manager’ the man who had him there? Hiding under a hat & a hoodie in the stands? #jokematerial”.

Wallace was banned from the sideline following a suspension picked up in his native Kerry in March. He watched the games from the stand at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.

The tweet was ‘liked’ by several current members of the senior football panel, and yesterday, Irish Examiner columnist Brian Gavin spoke on both Midlands Radio 3 and the We are Offaly podcast, calling for the county board to intervene and end Wallace’s tenure.

“It was probably the darkest day in championship terms that we can remember here in Offaly,” said Gavin.

“We’ve had a few horrific defeats in the league over the last five or six years, but in championship terms that was as bad as we’ve seen.

“Unfortunately, events in the build-up have led to increasing levels of unhappiness and unrest among players and supporters and Stephen Wallace and his management team has lost the dressing room.”

Gavin outlined some of the circumstances that led to the players’ discontent.

“Johnny Moloney opted out earlier this year after a disagreement with management and we can’t afford to lose players like him."

“Young James Lalor was only told 40 minutes before the game that he wasn’t starting, after being named in the team all week, and Nigel Dunne, who has been our top scorer in the National League and was getting into the game after 25 minutes, was taken off.

“He looked distraught, angry, and you couldn’t blame him. I’m told there was a lot of arguing, shouting, and fighting in the dressing room at half-time, Nigel left the dressing room to go home, he was persuaded to come back, he came on again in the second half and missed a penalty, but you couldn’t blame him given the mindset he was in.

“Former captain Sean Pender was also taken off and he told the management what he thought of that as well. The mood is desperate in the camp and the management positions are untenable.

“If the county board doesn’t act, the players will act.”

Since taking the helm, Wallace guided Offaly to the semi-finals of the O’Byrne Cup but was rocked by a disastrous start to the league as the team lost their first four games by a combined total of 30 points.

An away win in Wexford and a dour 0-8 to 0-8 draw with Sligo left them needing victory in Mullingar on the final day of the season and with Westmeath resting a number of key players, Offaly won by six points and secured Division 3 status for another season.

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However, any lingering feelgood factor was wiped out as Wallace was handed an eight-week ban by the Kerry County Board for an incident in a club game, while there was further controversy when he failed in his bid to get the county board to overturn a local rule that precluded U20 star Cian Johnson from playing with the senior team.

Other former players weighed in on the debate, with Rúairí Allen — who emigrated to Australia after featuring at midfield last year — tweeting:

“Some very questionable decisions by Offaly management yesterday, or lack of management on the sideline. Key players/leaders being pulled and some back on, expected to kick a crucial penalty. That group of players are worthy of better treatment.”

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