Saturday 20 January 2018

'Heart to heart' guides Faithful through

Dunne: Delight at revival. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Dunne: Delight at revival. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile

Michael Verney

With a swell of jubilant Offaly footballers and fans swarming around O'Connor Park after Sunday's Division 3 win over Laois, it was clear to see what the victory meant to the Faithful.

Just four weeks previously they had suffered a 30-point mauling from Armagh which left some bemused club delegates calling for Pat Flanagan's head.

With just one win to their name and morale at a new low, relegation loomed with four points required from their last three games to ensure survival; two wins were duly delivered.

Nigel Dunne, scorer of four points against the O'Moore men, puts much of their revival down to an old-fashioned "heart to heart".

"It's unbelievable. If you'd said to me in Armagh that we would survive I probably would've laughed, and that wouldn't have been showing a lack of belief in the whole thing but it just seemed so far away, but we turned it around," the Shamrocks man said.

"We had a real heart to heart the Tuesday after the Armagh game, lads were honest with each other, and the whole season turned around.

"We probably should've beaten Tipperary and we've won our last two games… it's just an unbelievable feeling.

"It would've been an absolute disaster to go back to Division 4, with all due respect to the Londons and the Carlows, they're not the teams that are going to improve you.

"We don't make it easy on ourselves, but it's great preparation for Westmeath.

"The last three games have actually been perfect for us - having to win all your games for fear of dropping to the lowest tier is savage preparation.

"Training was vicious over the past few weeks, there's been some amount of fights because lads just wanted it so badly and it's nice to be rewarded for all our efforts."

Dunne rubbished suggestions in some circles that players weren't pulling their weight under Flanagan and feels the Faithful are now primed to push on and atone for last year's Leinster SFC loss to Westmeath.

"People were saying we weren't playing for Pat and that was nonsense - we were fully behind Pat and we are fully behind him and we showed how much we want to play for Pat," he said.

"We treated this game like the first round of Leinster, we said we have to win this in preparation for Westmeath; it's onwards and upwards."

Irish Independent

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