Two-time All-Ireland winner Michael Duignan will go head to head with incumbent Tommy Byrne for the position of Offaly GAA chairman at next month’s county convention.
The closing of nominations show that Duignan and Byrne are the only two names in the ring for the top job in Offaly GAA, which will be decided by a vote at convention on December 10.
Byrne was elected chairman in late 2016. He previously served in the role of secretary for three years. Duignan’s decision to allow his name go forward comes off the back of an extremely turbulent and regressive few years for the Faithful County.
Relegated from the Liam MacCarthy Cup last year, Offaly’s senior hurlers endured an even worse 2019 campaign. Managing just a single win across league and championship, the county was relegated to Division 2A of the Allianz League and the Christy Ring Cup.
The county board sacked hurling manager Kevin Martin in mid-May after Offaly lost their opening two games in the Joe McDonagh Cup, with Joachim Kelly taking over on an interim basis for the remainder of the season. Kelly, however, was unable to arrest the decline as the county dropped to hurling’s third-tier when failing to beat Kerry in their final round-robin outing.
The Tullamore Tribune reported early last month that a representative group comprising of Duignan, Edenderry’s Colm Cummins, Clara’s Dervill Dolan, former Offaly hurler Brian Whelahan, and former Faithful footballer Stephen Darby met with county board chairman Byrne and other officers to outline their concerns regarding Offaly GAA. They also intimated during this meeting that a change of leadership was required. Byrne said he would not be standing down.
Four-time All-Ireland hurling final referee and Irish Examiner columnist Brian Gavin is nominated by his club, Clara, for the position of Leinster Council delegate.
Upon the release of nominations for the various board positions, former Offaly hurler Daithí Regan tweeted: “A great opportunity for dynamic new leadership in our county, critical convention which will hopefully lead our county to solidity, innovation, investment from business community, pathway for our youth, and people to lead us with a proven acumen in business and strategy.”
There could well be a contest for chairperson in neighbouring Longford. Although outgoing county board chairman Eamon Reilly had previously stated his intention to stand down at the end of this year, his decision to resign at the weekend, one month shy of convention, has thrown the county into crisis. Longford County Board referees administrator Joe O’Brien also stepped down from his post in recent times. Vice-chairperson Bríd McGoldrick has taken over from Reilly until convention.