Tuesday 22 October 2019

'We make the decisions' - Offaly chairman refuses to speak about player statement backing Stephen Wallace before he was sacked

Stephen Wallace
Stephen Wallace
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Offaly county board chairman Tommy Byrne says the management committee decided to remove Stephen Wallace and refused to discuss a player statement that gave the Kerry native their 100pc backing.

Byrne claims that the decision was made because the county board felt Wallace wasn't able to perform his duties while suspended from all GAA activities.

The Kerry Competitions Control Committee proposed an eight-week ban for Wallace arising from an incident that took place late in the Castleisland Co-Op Mart intermediate club championship game between John Mitchels and Ardfert at the Austin Stack Park on Saturday, March 31.

The suspension came into effect last week when the ban was upheld by the Kerry Hearing's Committee and Wallace's appeal against the decision of the hearing committee was dismissed on Satuday night.

Wallace was in the stands on Sunday to watch his side being beaten by underdogs Wicklow at O'Moore Park on Sunday after extra time.

"I actually wasn't aware of it until Sunday that there was an appeal on Saturday night," Byrne told Off The Ball AM this morning.

"There is a disciplinary process and until you get to the end of that that's what the situation is.

"We made our decision on what is best going forward for the players at the moment and for the county that the manager not being able to take part in training and not being able to be on the sideline and not being able to be in the dressingroom on the day...

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"He informed me that he would be proved innocent or not guilty or whatever. The only thing relevant today is that that term is over now and it's up to us to put another management team in place.

"We've made our decision and that decision is final. We're moving on to get a management team in place to get thew players back on the field training to get the players ready for the next round of the championship.

"We will putting an interim management team in and at the end of the Championship this year we will review the situation and we will decide what will be best for Offaly going forward.

"I wasn't informed of the appeal until Sunday. This was Sunday when the team had got together to go to the match."

Asked if Wallace would have been removed if Offaly had defeated Wicklow on Sunday, Byrne added: "I can't say. The members of the management committee made their decision last night and it may have been the very same decision. We dealt with the facts as they were last night and what decision we would have made if the facts were different is pure speculation.

"Teams lose all the time. If managers were sacked every time they lost a match there would be no managers."

It is being widely reported this morning that the player's gave a statement to the county board, prior to the decision to axe him, expressing their desire for him to remain on but the chairman refused to confirm or deny this.

"There is no point in talking to me about the players, we are not taking the players into this. The players just want to play.

"We will not be making any comment on anything got to do with the players other than that the players want to play football and we're going to put something in place so that they can play football.

"Offaly county board makes the decisions to hire people or remove them. There is no point in talking about the players.

"We're consulting with the players, we're talking with the players, the players want to just leave it as it is. I'm not answering any more questions on the players."

Wallace accused the county board of putting "roadblocks in our way every second of every day" but Byrne refuted this.

"People who are just out of a job are going to have complaints about this that and the other. Since Stephen was appointed, I've never had anything but good relations with him.

"He's bound to be hurting now. I'm not going to get into that. We haven't had ongoing battles with him. Every county has managers looking for more,  you can give them a  certain amount."

Offaly had already been dealing with the fallout from a county board decision last September that under-20 players would not be permitted to play in the senior championship, meaning star forward Cian Johnson was unavailable to Wallace and would not be available to a new Offaly manager for the 2019 championship either.

Asked if the Offaly county board had too much of a say on team affairs, Byrne said: "The county board wouldn't be involved in what goes on at training or anything like that other than what we have to put in place."

Asked does he take responsibility for Wallace's appointment: "Of course I do. I never envisaged this situation and I take full responsibility for appointing him. We felt it was the best thing to do at the time. Now we feel that we had to make the decision we made last night."

Will there be resignations as a result?


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