Wednesday 13 December 2017

Whelahan 'very hopeful' Hanniffy will commit

Offaly hurling manager Brian Whelahan
Offaly hurling manager Brian Whelahan
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

NEW Offaly hurling manager Brian Whelahan has left the door open for his former team-mate Rory Hanniffy to give the Faithful County one more year and said he is "very hopeful" that he will return.

The 32-year-old veteran has already given 13 years' sterling service since making his senior championship debut in 2001, but many believe his return for a 14th season would really anchor the team, which is in something of a transition.

As a former clubmate of Whelahan's at Birr, Hanniffy will be no stranger to how the new Offaly boss wants them to play. "We've given Rory some time to decide (on his future) and he is due to come back to us at the end of the month," Whelahan revealed. He added that the management is "very hopeful and looking forward to having him back in the dressing-room".

Hanniffy, a barrister, possesses the type of power and leadership that would be invaluable as Whelahan tries out a raft of new players who are just out of the U-21 ranks.

When he made his senior championship debut he lined out at corner-forward alongside John Troy and the Lusmagh man is also part of Whelahan's new back-room team.

Offaly, who were ousted from the Walsh Cup by Galway last weekend, are hoping to get Dan Currams and David Kenny back in action this week in a challenge match against Loughgiel Shamrocks, but it will be March before sharpshooter Shane Dooley is ready to return. New Kildare football boss Jason Ryan has taken a similar attitude with Lilies great Johnny Doyle (36), giving him plenty of time to decide if he can commit for another season.

Doyle's wife gave birth to twins at Christmas and they already had one toddler. "We speak regularly, he's very interested in how the group do but at the moment he has his family to take care of," Ryan said.

"Johnny Doyle is one of the most honest, hard-working, straight individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting so there is no need for coaxing or anything like that.

"When the time is right for him to make a decision, he'll make a decision and I for one am not in any position to ever tell that man what to do."

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