Offaly chiefs launch management review after Wicklow loss

Offaly GAA chiefs have commenced a review of their senior football management following Sunday’s Leinster SFC defeat to Wicklow.

Offaly manager Stephen Wallace watching their loss to Wicklow from the stand at O'Moore Park

Relations between manager Stephen Wallace, coach Billy Sheehan, and the squad have reached crisis point, with four players understood to have quit the panel in the aftermath of their shock 1-20 to 1-15 extra-time quarter-final defeat.

Whether more players head for the exit door will become clear at this evening’s training session, their first since Sunday.

The board are investigating events surrounding the reverse to Wicklow, including claims of a half-time dressing-room row.

When asked yesterday if the board retained confidence in Wallace and his management team, county chairman Tommy Byrne said a “review” was underway and what action the board may take, if any at all, would be determined by this audit.

Byrne said lines of communication between the board executive and Wallace, appointed last September, have remained open since the game on Sunday.

Player unrest was evident by the reaction of Offaly forward Nigel Dunne — the county’s top-scorer during their Division Three league campaign — who could not hide his disgust with management after being hauled ashore after 28 minutes.

It had been claimed Dunne left the dressing-room at half-time to go home, but the player, in a tweet sent out last night, rubbished this rumour.

“I did not leave O’Moore Park at half-time on Sunday and head for my car, sure I came on the team bus. I left the dressing-room to get some air, have a sulk and feel sorry for myself..nothing more!! I was back on the subs bench as the ref threw up the ball for the start of the second-half.”

Last year’s captain, Sean Pender, was also furious when substituted five minutes into the second half.

Wallace watched the game from the stand in O’Moore Park as he is currently serving an eight-week sideline ban for his involvement in a brawl during a club game in his native Kerry.

"It is disappointing to hear and read what has been said and written about Offaly football in the media the past few days,” said Byrne.

“No county wants that. We are going through a review at the moment, but no end conclusion has been reached.”

Those within the county backing the Wallace project point out that Offaly have only won one Leinster championship game in ten years.

They lost their first outings to Westmeath (2008 and 2017), Kildare (2009), Meath (2010), Wexford (2011), Kildare (2012- 2013), and Longford (2014 and 2015). The squad has also had a significant turnover in personnel since the 2017 championship.

However, Rhode’s Alan McNamee, who played over 100 times for the Offaly footballers, tweeted on Sunday that “it was an awful pity to see one of 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”.

The tweet was ‘liked’ by several members of the Offaly panel.

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