where are they now?
(Former Offaly footballer)
In 1997, when Leinster football was in an extremely competitive period, Offaly came in under the radar and captured the Leinster title. Meath provided the opposition; they were defending champions and had beaten Kildare in a tough semi-final. They were expected to win easily but the Offaly footballers had other ideas. Ballycumber man Colm Quinn was one of the key players that day and he counts the win in Croke Park as his career highlight.
"It was an unforgettable day, to come from nowhere and to do it with that bunch of lads was a special experience. There were great characters and personalities on that team," says Quinn
Tommy Lyons was manager then and when he came on board he brought a whole new level of organisation to the Offaly camp and put a huge emphasis on fitness. Looking back at that time, Quinn sees similarities between their set-up and that of the current Donegal team.
"What happened with Donegal goes to show what can be achieved if you have a committed bunch of players and have someone that is as motivated and organised as Jim McGuinness involved. In that respect, Tommy Lyons was like that; he was focused and you could sense that something good was going to happen from day one."
But Quinn has regrets too; he played for Offaly for 11 years and feels that in that time they should have won more, especially in Leinster. He still plays with Ballycumber and retirement isn't on the agenda any time soon.
"We've contested a few semi-finals but haven't made the breakthrough at senior level. A lot of players have left because of the recession so we're short numbers and that means I'll probably have to keep playing for another while."
He runs his own company, Proline Agencies, a distribution company that deals mostly with builders' providers and plumbing merchants, supplying related products to them.
The O'Byrne Cup gets under way today with Offaly in action against Laois and Quinn thinks that for the likes of his former team it's an important competition.
"When you have a new manager, it's vital that you get the players out playing so you can have a look at them and the O'Byrne Cup allows you to do that. It also gets the year started and that too is a good thing for all involved."
Sunday Indo Sport