Monday 5 December 2016

‘Forgotten’ Offaly Hurling report from 2014 finally set for review tonight

Michael Verney

Published 10/05/2016 | 15:21

Paddy Rigney, Offaly, dejected after the heavy defeat to Westmeath
Paddy Rigney, Offaly, dejected after the heavy defeat to Westmeath

HEATED debate is expected at tonight’s Offaly County Board meeting, with Liam Hogan, chairperson of the Offaly Hurling Pathway review group, finally getting the opportunity to present the “forgotten” report which has been left to gather dust since December 2014.

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A string of morale-sapping losses at all levels, culminating in the senior side’s recent 14-point mauling to Westmeath, has led to a public outcry in Offaly and Hogan, an All-Ireland winner in 1981, is delighted that the document will finally see the light of day.

“Our committee spent 18 months working on this. We met once if not twice every week, often late into the night,” Hogan said. “We brought in Dr Áine McNamara, head of Sports Science at the University of Central Lancashire, a woman who has been core to the Limerick plan, ‘Lifting the Treaty’, whose father is a Tullamore man.

“We were ready to publish in December 2014 but we were asked to hold off because the footballers were also preparing their own review. The county board wanted to put both plans to delegates together.

“Then when nothing was happening we eventually put together a final draft in March 2015 and it was put to the county board on April 1 2015. But nothing has happened since.”

The report highlights a lack of an overall coaching plan for Offaly as well as the failure to come close to the GAA’s recommended ratio of coaches to players at underage level and Hogan just wants “to get the review document published” after watching the county gradually slip off the hurling radar.

Hogan, who led Ballyboden St Enda’s to five Dublin SHC titles in six years, admits his shock that some members of the county board weren’t even aware of its existence and urges Offaly to finally start making up for lost time.

“Nobody seems to know of the plan’s existence, including some county board officers, and that’s horrifying,” he said. “It’s 17 months old at this stage but if it is passed (tonight) we will reconvene, review and amend it and every club in the county will have a revised copy within two weeks.

“Let’s draw a line in the sand and take this plan forward. In Offaly we have a wealth of hurling and football knowledge, it’s embedded in our DNA but the defeat to Westmeath has jolted people, and there were only 950 people in attendance at O’Connor Park on Saturday.

“And many of those were Carlow supporters. We have given ourselves the name of the Faithful County, it’s about time we started living up to that name.”

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