Tuesday 17 September 2019

Coaching is a passion that I've always had - new Offaly boss Fennelly

Fennelly: "When I was 30 years of age, I was reading stuff on management and coaching and I had to stop myself because I was a player at that time." Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

FEW predicted that Michael Fennelly would dip his toes in as an inter-county manager with Offaly's hurlers at the tender age of 34 but the Kilkenny legend has been storing away notes and ideas for some time with this type of opportunity in mind.

When approached about the post, Fennelly admits he "couldn't sleep" with his mind racing about how he'd like to do things were he in the position and the eight-time All-Ireland winner, who lectures in strength and conditioning with Limerick IT, is keen to put his own stamp on things with the struggling Faithful.

"I have a book at home and I'm constantly taking down notes, reading things. When I was 30 years of age, I was reading stuff on management and coaching and I had to stop myself because I was a player at that time," Fennelly said yesterday.

"I had to focus on myself as a player and get back to making sure I was performing at my best instead of looking at the whole coaching and managerial side of things. And even probably the best manager of all time, in terms of Brian Cody.

"And I'm not Brian Cody and I don't want to be like Brian Cody, but a lot of things he did I would have obviously observed and taken in and wondered why he did this or that. It was innate, I was always looking at that and those things whereas other players wouldn't have looked at that at all. It's probably a passion I've always had."


Several inter-county opportunities have come his way in recent years, including being offered the Carlow's camogie job, but the chance to manage Offaly was one he "couldn't quench".

After being relegated to the Christy Ring Cup and Division 2A of the league, it would seem like the only way is up for Offaly under Fennelly's watch and he hopes he can attract the best players into the fold.

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"I'm hoping that the majority of players will put their hands up. I'm hoping for any player who I do pick to come in on the panel that will come in. If they don't, they don't but whoever wants to come in, I will work with and I will give 100 per cent to get the most out of those players," he said.

"The management is probably like 20 or 30 per cent, it's 70 per cent the players, it's all about the players and accountability and responsibility, the majority of it falls with them. It's just bringing them together and trying to build that culture and tradition that Offaly used to have, and again I think it's definitely still there."

His backroom team is yet to be finalised but the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman is hoping to have "a mixture of Offaly, maybe a bit of Kilkenny and maybe another person from another county" alongside him.

"There's going to be a lot of bumps on the road and a lot of things that other managers might have seen quicker than I did but I'm very open-minded."

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