Tuesday 25 October 2016

Nolan opts out of faithful set-up as Kelly stresses 'total commitment'

Michael Verney

Published 12/01/2016 | 02:30

Eamonn Kelly believes Offaly are still on the right track Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Eamonn Kelly believes Offaly are still on the right track Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Eamonn Kelly will not waste his time on those who are not fully committed to Offaly hurling as he looks to restore bruised pride in the Faithful county.

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Offaly have slipped into the doldrums in recent seasons but Kelly believes they are on the right track despite U-21 star Emmet Nolan opting out for 2016.

Nolan played corner-back in their recent Walsh Cup win over DIT on January 3 and is an exciting prospect but the Birr man has withdrawn his services.

"Emmet Nolan is not on the panel, he can't give his commitment. We set down the markers of what we need and there's some guys who can give it, and some who can't," Kelly said.

"There's a few not here because they're not committed to what we want to do and that's fine. What we have we're happy with and their attitude is good."

Kilcormac-Killoughey star Cillian Kiely has not trained since he was taken off after 30 minutes of the DIT game but Kelly said he had "no news on that" in the wake of a five-point defeat to Tipperary on Sunday in Templemore.

Kiely's future is uncertain while Kelly expects dual players Shane Dooley and Joey O'Connor to go separate ways should a competitive clash arise.

"We're working very well with the football," Kelly said. "Joey has played a few matches with us but Joey's number one game is football. If it's a 50-50 call he'll go football, Shane is the opposite."


Kelly, who led Kerry to Christy Ring Cup success in 2015, knows it's a long road back to Offaly's glory days of the 1980s and '90s but the Tipp native is taking great heart from their endeavour.

"Their confidence is very low and we need to build on that. We need to get more games like this, we've Kilkenny next week and we need to try and slowly build," Kelly said.

"There's a lot of foundation to go in before we can build but all I can say is what we have left are very committed. We're hurling a set way and they're buying into it.

"We've a good backroom team with stats and video trying to show them and see where we're going wrong and what we can work on and hopefully it will come together. We're starting to get some of the things right.

"Their ability is there but confidence needs to be built up. Is it good enough to go to the very top level? Time will tell but we can't ask for anymore and it's going in the right direction."

Joe Bergin and Dan Currams are set to return in the coming weeks and they'll be needed as Offaly's credentials will be further examined. Their next test is the visit of the All-Ireland champions to Birr on Sunday as Kelly's learning curve continues.

Irish Independent

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