Tuesday 28 March 2017

Sheedy's task pointless if Offaly don't change

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Liam Sheedy, Chairman of the Hurling 2020 Committee, speaking at the GAA Annual Congress 2015
Liam Sheedy, Chairman of the Hurling 2020 Committee, speaking at the GAA Annual Congress 2015

Liam Sheedy's search for the next Offaly senior hurling manager won't amount to a whoop in a rain barrel until and unless the county begins winning back some self-respect at underage.

It's 12 years since Offaly last contested a Leinster minor final (15 since they won one) and they've gone an entire decade now without recording a victory over Kilkenny, Wexford or Dublin in that grade. During the last three years, their only Minor Championship victories recorded have been over Carlow.

The picture at U-21 level is no less dispiriting. Offaly have appeared in just a solitary Leinster final since their last victory in 2000, when they were contesting their fifth decider in six years.

The only Leinster Colleges hurling titles won by the county are those claimed by Birr Community School in '79, '80, '85 and '86. Another lifetime.

That must surely be the primary concern of those charged with restoring the Faithful county to a place at hurling's top table now. No matter the diligence of Sheedy and that five-man committee set up to find Brian Whelahan's successor, it's clearly raw material the county now needs most desperately, not a big-name figurehead.

Whelahan was hardly the problem with Offaly hurling these last couple of years. After all, is there a more perfect emblem or symbol of the county's great days?

Offaly's challenge is brutally, cruelly simple.

It is to grow a new harvest, not keep sending in new faces to tend a hopelessly stony field.

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