Faithful stalwart McManus bows out with jibe at board
OFFALY'S finest football servant of the past two decades, Ciaran McManus, has lashed the county board's decision not to engage one of the two local contenders for their senior manager's job.
Offaly appointed Gerry Cooney as Tom Cribbin's replacement last Thursday after a long and acrimonious recruitment process which saw the three people originally interviewed -- locals Stephen Darby and Tom Coffey and former Dublin player Jack Sheedy -- all withdraw from the process.
Niall McNamee has already pulled out of county football in protest at the way the board handled the appointment.
And now, in a further blow to the new manager, Cooney will be without McManus' services as the Tubber veteran officially called it a day yesterday and admitted that the delay in appointing a county manager played some part in his decision to retire.
He was particularly critical of the decision not to go for Darby or Coffey.
"There was two great Offaly men looking for the job as well as a good Dublin man," McManus said.
"It's disappointing that the lads didn't get the chance early on -- I'm very disappointed for Stevie and Tom in particular. I know them well and both would have done an equally great job.
"That just added to it, it was part of it, but after so many years I felt it was the right time with a new management going in anyway.
"They'll want to have a fresh look at players and maybe I'm holding off a spot there now for young lads now who need to get in there.
"The new management will obviously have a two or three-year programme and, if I was to add two or three years to where I am now, I'll be nearly 40.
"The other thing was just the delay in putting in new management -- I felt it was best to get out now."
Of football's recent vintage only Tyrone's Brian Dooher, who also recently retired, gave longer inter-county service than McManus, a whole-hearted player who, at 36, was still a key player for the Faithful County.
After making his senior debut in 1995 he lined out for Offaly for the last 16 years, playing 120 league games and 64 championship matches, and he also starred for Ireland at International Rules.
In recent years he kept up that commitment despite his work taking him to live in Scandinavia, Germany and England.
But yesterday McManus said that playing for Offaly was never a chore or a difficulty, no matter what his personal circumstances.
"I'll never say playing with Offaly was difficult. I always thoroughly enjoyed it and when you enjoy something you'll always be able to manage your time or overcome the difficulties," McManus said.
"It was half my life but if I didn't enjoy it I wouldn't have stayed there. I still am enjoying it but I've given it my best shot and think it's time to let the young lads get going."
McManus was part of the Offaly team that won the Leinster title in 1997 and the Division 1 league title in '98, but they dropped all the way down to Division 4 in recent years and are currently languishing in Division 3.
McManus stressed there is potential there to build upon.
"There's plenty of talent there. I know the pool in the county is small compared to others but there's plenty of good young lads," he said.
"We have a lot of catching up to do. There's a lot of counties well ahead of us now with respect to development, progress and the level they take their training and performances to.
"But we've been in four or five Leinster minor finals. Unfortunately we never got the win out of any of those -- we need to make a mark at U-21 and senior level.
"But there's a lot of lads there looking for a bit of new direction now and maybe the new management can give them that and get them going.
"Hopefully now this is a new era for Offaly and the new management who will take it to the next level."