Offaly look set to review Dooley dual experiment
Published 09/01/2016 | 02:30
The building process continues for Offaly football.
Last year mixed the good with the bad as a Division 4 league final win over Longford was followed by defeat to the same opposition in the Leinster Championship. In the back door they'd beat Waterford but lose out narrowly to Kildare and that would be that for 2015.
The effort to progress continues this year. Pat Flanagan, who has been consistently bullish about the potential within Offaly football, reckons about a third of his panel will change by the time he settles on his 2016 squad.
Some of those have moved on for various reasons while others have been attracted back to the fold but Flanagan firmly believes there is a better atmosphere in the county heading into 2016.
"There was a lot of negativity around Offaly football," Flanagan said. "Hopefully we've turned the corner in that regard and I think we have. We had around 40 players in on trial and they all trained and did what we asked. That shows there's an interest among young players in getting in and playing with Offaly."
The likes of Sean Pender, Rory Allen, and Mickey Brazil are among those available again to Flanagan. But perhaps the most intriguing is the inclusion of the county's star hurler, Shane Dooley, in the squad for the O'Byrne Cup.
Dooley has briefly flirted with the footballers before. And there's nothing to suggest this time will last any longer. For Flanagan, the arrangement is a very loose one, with all parties set to sit down after January to decide on the next step.
"I met with Shane a while ago. And he's an excellent hurler but we had a chat and decided he should be in the football panel."
The rest of the country looks to be moving away from dual players. Late last year Jimmy Barry-Murphy agreed that the days of playing both codes are all but gone while a report in Wexford suggested players should be concentrate on one code or another before they leave underage. And Flanagan admits he's unsure as to how the arrangement might work as the season unfolds.
"In this day and age it's a big ask, especially the way football has gone in that it's nearly professional," said the Clara man. "But he's a top-class club footballer in the county and he did himself no harm during the week (in the defeat to DIT).
"Shane is the kind of fella that whether he played football, hurling, soccer or even golf, he'd be good at it. So we'll sit down in a couple of weeks and see how he's coping and where we go with it from there."
Flanagan had a brief chat with Faithful hurling manager Eamonn Kelly about the arrangement which could work both ways. Joey O'Connor is toying with a similar arrangement.
Flanagan also revealed that Peter Cunningham and Eoin Carroll are struggling with knocks but he hinted that Paul McConway could see some action in the championship as he continues to recover from a serious knee operation.
"We have a number of new lads in and a few lads back on board so we'll assess the whole lot. All in all a third of the panel could be turned over this year," he added.