Sunday 25 September 2016

Offaly official slams pundits as abuse 'goes too far'

Jackie Cahill

Published 10/05/2016 | 02:30

Offaly boss Eamonn Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Offaly boss Eamonn Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile

A leading Offaly official has railed against the criticism dished out to the county's hurling team from pundits "collecting fees on radio stations and papers".

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Faithful county secretary Tommy Byrne insists that the abuse of players and managers has "gone way too far".

Byrne was reacting to comments from Offaly boss Eamonn Kelly over the weekend, who claimed that he was abused by anonymous phone callers following the shock Leinster SHC round-robin defeat to Westmeath nine days ago.

Byrne added that there was "no real explanation for the Westmeath thing" but was pleased to see Offaly get their campaign back on track with a hard-earned victory over 13-man Carlow in Tullamore on Saturday.

Kelly and his players were hammered locally following the Westmeath defeat, and former Offaly All-Ireland SHC winner Daithí Regan also made his feelings known on national radio station Newstalk.

Byrne reflected: "There's work to be done and there is work being done. Our minors are in a Leinster semi-final on Saturday (against Wexford) and they're in with a chance.

"Some of the lads giving out don't even know what's going on. They're collecting fees on radio stations and papers, not even at any of these matches."

Byrne added that he didn't "hear or see" any of Regan's comments, when he directed the bulk of his criticism at the Offaly County Board in the wake of the Westmeath defeat.

Byrne said: "I didn't hear or see it. That's the way he wants to be . . . you can't stop a fella talking."

Byrne also insisted that Kelly is the man to take Offaly forward - and has the full backing of the county board.

A number of players have not made themselves available for selection in recent years, which weakens Kelly's hand, and Byrne explained: "When Eamonn came in, he looked for lads that would make the commitment to train at a level he feels is necessary.

"Some couldn't do that and that's their choice. It's an amateur sport and you can't force them. The abuse is gone way too far, as it is probably when somebody does something good.

"Maybe it's over-hyped what the manager's role is - the players are the ones playing and some lads can have an off-day.

"We're all human. There's no real explanation for the Westmeath thing but they got back together, put their head down, trained during the week and went out and won the (Carlow) match.

"The lads he has are committed and we'll have Sean Ryan and Colin Egan back for the next game (against Kerry) as well.

"He (Kelly) is the right man for the job. We picked him, he has our full backing and he knows that.

"We're moving forward in a positive way. There's no real explanation for it (Westmeath) but recriminations are not going to solve any problems.

"The players came out on Saturday, they had a job to do and they did it."

Irish Independent

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