Dooley calls it a day
Joe Dooley walked away from four years of management with Offaly last night, insisting that he had no grievance with the county board he was at odds with only two weeks ago over training facilities.
Dooley became the first managerial casualty of the championship season when he opted to step down just days after Offaly had pushed Cork to just one point in a tense hurling qualifier in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Dooley, who had signed a letter addressed to every club in the county prior to the Cork match after the O'Connor Park training lock-out, insisted that the issue was down to individuals more than county board policy.
"We've had a problem getting into O'Connor Park for the last couple of years alright," said Dooley yesterday.
"It was probably a lot down to an individual or two that was there on the day but I have no grievance with the county board.
"In fairness, they have given us good support over the years. It might maybe highlight some difficulties that are there and the next man will be able to deal with it better hopefully as a consequence of what we did."
The lock-out and the letter led to a much wider debate within the county about where the Offaly hurling teams should play and, by extension, the commitment of the footballers -- which was questioned by former dual player Michael Duignan in a radio interview.
Dooley served four years with Offaly and said it had been on his mind that this would be his last season.
"The lads need to hear a different voice, someone who can bring them that extra little bit. It's for the good of Offaly hurling as well as my own personal reasons," he said.
"I went in for a three-year term. That was up last year and the board asked me to stay on.
"I suppose I think it's time to step aside and let somebody else in. I've had four very enjoyable years.
"We've made a lot of progress and there's a lot of great young fellas there that have given great commitment over the last few years.
"They're up to a level now where maybe they just need to hear a different voice and for that reason I'm stepping aside."
Offaly were relegated from Division 1 in April and Dooley (right) expressed disappointed with the weakened teams that Cork and Tipperary fielded in their last two games, which allowed Wexford to gather sufficient points to stay up.
"We felt sore over that," he said. "Tipperary and Cork put out 'B' teams in their last two games. But maybe they'll be under less pressure next spring."
A number of names have already been in circulation to replace Dooley.
Aidan Fogarty went for the job as part of a management team the last time in 2007 and he may be interested again.
Brian Whelahan would command big support if he threw his hat in the ring, while the players are known to have been happy with Francis Forde, the former Galway hurler who has worked as a coach with Dooley for the last year.
Liam Hogan, who has overseen Ballyboden-St Enda's success in Dublin over the last four years, is another interesting candidate.