Friday 2 December 2016

New Laois boss Kelly had 'difficult' year in Offaly

Jackie Cahill

Published 09/11/2016 | 02:30

Kelly received a number of anonymous phone calls and was bombarded with further criticism on social media. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Kelly received a number of anonymous phone calls and was bombarded with further criticism on social media. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Eamonn Kelly insists that he had no plans to return to senior inter-county hurling management until he was approached by Laois.

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And Kelly revealed that coach Conor Gleeson played a massive part in his decision to accept the O'Moore County post after serving one year in charge of neighbours Offaly.

Tipperary native Kelly has also indicated that it would have found it difficult to continue with the Faithful County, having been subjected to vile personal abuse in the wake of a shock Leinster SHC round-robin defeat to Westmeath.

In the days that followed, Kelly received a number of anonymous phone calls and was bombarded with further criticism on social media.

But the Kiladangan man still managed to turn the Offaly ship around and steered them out of the round-robin stage, past Laois in the next phase and into a provincial semi-final.

And Kelly says that the foundations laid down by his predecessor Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett in Laois have also enticed him into his new role.

Kelly will be joined by Gleeson in Offaly, the Boherlahan man who was his coach in previous stints with Kerry and latterly Offaly.

Kelly said: "That was the big thing for me. Conor would have always said it to me over the last few years that there is massive potential in Laois.

"He managed Rathdowney-Errill to win a county title in 2014. He's always spoken about them, how they were very genuine guys with a great attitude. There was also a classic county final between Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton and Rathdowney-Errill recently and in the underage development squads, men like Pat Critchley have been doing massive work.

"It wasn't an easy decision going from Offaly to Laois and it wasn't anything I had in my head when I finished up (with Offaly).

"But I'm going to see if we can build on the good work that's gone in there. I don't see myself in inter-county management for the next ten years so I want to give this one a right go. I had two really fantastic years in Kerry and with Offaly, I had a fantastic working relationship with the players, selectors and backroom team.

"I have a lot of respect for them but personally, I had a difficult year there and it wasn't going to work for me in the long term. As I've said, I wasn't intending going back into inter-county management but I've seen the great work that Cheddar has done.

"He has left the foundations there and has done that over the last number of years."

At club level, Kelly has guided his native Kiladangan to a county junior 'A' final against Ballybacon-Grange, a fixture which is pencilled in for November 27.

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