Offaly manager Brian Whelahan has revealed how Rory Hanniffy played through 2014 with three knee fractures and lined out against Tipperary in the Championship ‘against all medical advice’.
Veteran Hanniffy confirmed his retirement after 14 seasons with Offaly though Whelahan admitted his Birr club mate probably should have quit after 2013. Hanniffy battled knee trouble for several years and scans last winter revealed three fractures on one of his knees as well as significant cartilage damage.
The versatile defender finally underwent surgery in recent weeks, having put it off for several months in order to answer Offaly’s call one last time.
Whelahan accepted Hanniffy was more specifically answering his call as Hanniffy was unlikely to quit once long time ally Whelahan was appointed manager for 2014.
“I think one of the reasons he didn’t retire last year was because of me getting the job, his own clubman and he decided to give it another year,” said Whelahan.
“Offaly owes him a debt of gratitude for the service he has given, particularly this year when the honours didn’t come his way. He had ongoing knee problems over his career but when he joined up with us last year he found that one of his knees was treating him very badly. So he got a scan and it showed up three fractures on his knee and damage done to his cartilage.
“We played him in two games in the league and tried to rest him really until the Championship. But then against Antrim in the qualifiers up in Ballycastle he did further damage to the knee. To be honest, he hurled against all medical advice against Tipperary.
“That’s a measure of the guy that he was still trying to give his all for his county even when he probably shouldn’t have been. He had a huge influence on the dressing-room and that’s something that can’t be understated.”
Hanniffy joined the Offaly panel in 2001, a year after they reached their last All-Ireland final which brother Gary played in. Offaly’s fortunes have dwindled progressively since then though Hanniffy collected AIB All-Ireland Club medals with Birr in 2002 and 2003. He was on the team that lost the 2008 final to Portumna.
Offaly also look set to be without two more former captains for 2015 in David Kenny and Kevin Brady. Kenny skippered Offaly as recently as 2013 but has been plagued by injury and its understood he and Brady won’t be involved next year.
Meanwhile, boss Whelahan has indicated he won’t be accommodating any dual player arrangement for Offaly players in 2015. Several players including Shane Dooley had signalled their intent to play both codes in 2014 before settling on hurling exclusively early in the season.
Whelahan said he and new football manager Pat Flanagan are both interested in some of the same players again for 2015 but said a dual arrangement is unlikely.
It follows the decisions taken by players in Cork and Clare to focus on one code only next year. “I don’t think, for the players’ own sake, that it’s doable in the modern game, it’s not on,” said Whelahan.
“If it was workable and if players could perform at the highest level then I think everyone would try and accommodate it. But I don’t think it’s on in reality. Take Aidan Walsh in Cork who has decided to go with just one code. That is a hugely talented player in hurling and football who has seen the demands and decided it’s not possible to do both.
“Go back to Sean Óg (Ó hAilpín) in Cork, he chose one. I just think the demands are too much and if your standards drop as a result you can get caught in the middle and end up warming the bench for both codes.
“The current situation in Offaly is that both codes are struggling for a bit of form. I would think that from the football and hurling side of things we will be requiring the ultimate sacrifice from players going into 2015 and their full commitment.”