Tuesday 20 February 2018

Offaly keen to coax Cooney back into managerial frame

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The drawn-out search to find a new Offaly manager could reach an end by Thursday night when the county board meet for the first time since the process descended into chaos.

A proposal is now expected and Gerry Cooney is thought to be the favoured candidate once more.

Cooney came into the reckoning after the departures of Tom Coffey, Stephen Darby and Jack Sheedy, but then withdrew.

He was involved with Kevin Kilmurray in 2005 and 2006, but after taking a break from football he resurfaced to put in a strong challenge for the Meath job, which went to Seamus McEnaney.

Cooney has close ties to former All-Ireland-winning Kilmacud Crokes boss Paddy Carr, who stepped down last week. But Carr has said that he will take some time before he considers his next move.

The committee, which set out to find a successor to Tom Cribbin in mid-July, is now under increasing pressure to come up with a name and they've been trying to coax Cooney back into the race.

The delay and the confusion over an appointment has led to deep frustration in Offaly, with Niall McNamee, the county's best footballer, adamant that he will not be playing for the Faithful as long as the current administrative structures remain in place.

McNamee's frustration seemed to be shared by hurler James Rigney, who looks set to join London as he seeks employment. Rigney was critical last week of the lack of interest Offaly GAA has been showing in his case.

None of the original three candidates interviewed by the seven-man committee have been revisited. Rhode manager Coffey was the first to withdraw three weeks ago, citing frustration over the delay, and Sheedy was informed that his plans weren't suitable to what Offaly wanted.

Darby declined to go for a second interview, though he did not formally withdraw. "I haven't spoken to anyone from the board since my last discussion more than a fortnight ago when I was asked to attend a second meeting," he said.

"I'm still available. I thought they might come back to try and sort out whatever problem arose, but I've had no contact."

Elsewhere, Roscommon's County Board are due to meet tonight to start the process of replacing Fergal O'Donnell. Des Newton, who was involved with Kilmacud Crokes this year as a selector, is attracting interest.

Irish Independent

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