Thursday 21 September 2017

'It's unthinkable for us to allow the wheels to come off' - Quinn

Offaly manager Pat Flanagan and Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney shake hands after Sunday’s encounter. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile
Offaly manager Pat Flanagan and Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney shake hands after Sunday’s encounter. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

You have to go all the way back to 1901 to find a bigger defeat for Offaly's senior footballers than Sunday's 30-point schooling at the hands of Armagh, and the shock result has certainly raised eyebrows.

Coping with the two-and-a-half-hour journey north, which the players chose to make by car, was never going to be easy but Armagh's pre-match odds of 2/5 were fair in the context of Division 3 action up until that point.

Change required immediately’, Sullivan (pictured) wrote: “It’s alarming how many people are shocked by this. Photo: Sportsfile
Change required immediately’, Sullivan (pictured) wrote: “It’s alarming how many people are shocked by this. Photo: Sportsfile

Given Offaly's competitiveness during Pat Flanagan's three-year reign, nobody could have predicted the events at the Athletic Grounds as the Faithful were hit for six en route to a humiliating hammering.

Having watched them in their opening games against Longford and Antrim, former Offaly star Colm Quinn - who played in all four divisions during a lengthy career in green, white and gold and cannot recall a similar outcome - was shellshocked by a "complete capitulation".

Quinn feels there has been progress and contentment under Flanagan and was quick to write the result off as an aberration after expecting that "the corner had been turned" when Antrim were swatted aside in round two.

"I can't put my finger on it considering Armagh haven't shown anything to suggest that they are head and shoulders above everyone else in the division, you couldn't have envisaged the game being over after 20 minutes," Quinn said.

"I know the amount of work going on behind the scenes and they're trying to do the right things and ticking the right boxes of what needs to be done at that level so for a result like that to happen, it's just pure disbelief.

"They have no choice but to write it off. You have to sit down and be honest and tell a few home truths."

The Ballycumber forward feels it's "unthinkable to allow the wheels come off" and expects a big reaction against Tipperary at home on Sunday week but they face a "dog fight" to avoid the drop to the bottom league tier which would be an "absolute disaster".

"The management are going into their third year and your whole record can't be based on one game, you can't become that bad a team after one result but it's critical that they don't go down to Division 4," he said.

"It's all hands on deck to wipe the slate clean and get back on track now."

With doubts surrounding Niall McNamee's future, it could be a challenging time for the Faithful but his Rhode team-mate Paraic Sullivan, a former Offaly captain, has jumped to the team's defence and urged supporters to "lay off" while insisting that they are not operating on a level playing field.

In a Twitter post entitled 'Some food for thought of this miserable Monday morning. Change required immediately', Sullivan wrote: "It's alarming how many people are shocked by this.

"It's not a level playing field. Teams have different populations, amount of clubs, funding, amenities and previous success. The teams with the best set-up will prosper. Having a professional set-up in which the players train like athletes, recover like athletes and are athletes breeds success.

"The game has evolved significantly in a short period and because the majority of counties do not have the resources, funding or forward thinking, not only are they lagging behind but being embarrassed. It's not the players' fault. I can't reiterate that enough.

"But unless there is some way of capping the funding or implementing something so that it is somewhat even across the board, we are in danger of seriously losing some teams from competing. That is the stark reality, and it's really sad to think that might happen."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport