Monday 1 May 2017

Faithful must build on Kelly's foundations, insists Ryan

Kelly cited personal and business demands as the reasons for stepping aside. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Kelly cited personal and business demands as the reasons for stepping aside. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

Eamonn Kelly's resignation as Offaly hurling manager will be sorely felt by all of his squad and the standards he raised during 2016 must be maintained or the "vulnerable" Faithful will fall further behind, according to midfielder Sean Ryan.

The Tipperary native departs after just one season in charge but he did help take Offaly out of the Leinster round-robin stages despite an embarrassing 11-point reversal to Westmeath in May.

Kelly cited personal and business demands as the reasons for stepping aside, with former dual star Ryan (29) expressing the "disappointment" at the decision among the panel after what he describes as the "most enjoyable season" of his county career.

"We always felt that he would be back again next year and whatever had to be done to keep him there would have been done and it's a bit of shock to the system," he said.

"It was the first time I was really exposed to what a top-class inter-county set-up was.

"Eamonn put some serious structures in place which hadn't been seen for the last number of years.

"It's a huge commitment but with the right structures in place and when the right things are being done, it's definitely a lot easier for a player to buy into it.

Brilliant

"When a player walks over the line there's a lot of things going into that player to get him onto the pitch on Championship day. Eamonn was brilliant with the players and made sure they had everything they needed, both on and off the pitch. There was no stone left unturned."

After a couple of years in the doldrums, Ryan demands that Offaly must progress from the "foundations" laid by Kelly and put everything in place to help lift them back to the lofty heights of the 1990s.

"The foundations have been set this year for the first time to a proper inter-county standard - it'd be soul destroying if cutbacks were made because it would feel like we're taking a step backwards if that's what does happen," he said.

"It's important the county board give whoever comes in all the support they need because Offaly are in a vulnerable position right now. And the only way we can do that is to get the right man on board and financially back him.

"If that's not done then it would be worrying for the future; 2016 was about setting a foundation and next year is about laying the blocks. There's a framework set in place for whoever comes in next.

"It's important that the next manager is given the same support as Eamonn and for the players, it would feel like a step backwards if we don't progress all of that on for next year."

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