Rude awakening for new faithful boss as Tipp set sights on '2020 vision'
Published 30/11/2016 | 02:30
Offaly hurling boss Kevin Ryan has been dealt a huge blow before his first season in charge commences with the news that 2016 captain Colin Egan will be unavailable for the coming year.
The Belmont attacker has opted out due to family reasons and his absence, along with Daniel Currams, means that Ryan will be without the Faithful's last two senior skippers as he looks to turn around the fortunes of a county slipping further down hurling's pecking order in recent years.
Kilcormac/Killoughey's Conor Mahon and experienced defender Chris McDonald have not committed for the year, while there's no place for Offaly Hurler of the Year Gary Kelly, from county champions St Rynagh's, with the former Antrim, Carlow and Tyrone boss also without the influential Shane Kinsella until the latter stages of next year's league after he underwent shoulder surgery.
Ryan, who succeeded Eamonn Kelly in the Offaly hot-seat, has turned to youth with an influx of last year's beaten Leinster U-21 finalists on his winter training squad.
Ryan will be assisted by Waterford great Paul Flynn and former Irish rugby international Gary Longwell, but he is still on the hunt for selectors from within the county - a search which is proving exhausting and unfruitful at present.
Elsewhere, Tipperary football board chairman Joe Hannigan has suggested that winning an All-Ireland senior title by 2020 is "no longer a pipe dream" and "fast becoming a reality" after reaching this year's All-Ireland semi-final.
Hannigan told delegates attending Monday evening's football board convention: "We can look back at the 2020 vision now - the way things are going, it's no longer a pipe dream, it's fast becoming a reality. We are really looking forward to 2017.
"We have to build on this success and drive it on. We have the calibre of player in the county to do it. That should be our target and we are well on our way to doing it. 2016 was a great year - boys became men and we look forward to driving Tipp football on now in 2017."