Wednesday 11 December 2019

Fennelly keen to stay Faithful to dual mandate

New Offaly hurling boss and Ballyhale Shamrocks player Michael Fennelly. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
New Offaly hurling boss and Ballyhale Shamrocks player Michael Fennelly. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Michael Fennelly is familiar with keeping a busy schedule but the next couple of weeks, and possibly months, could be particularly taxing as the new Offaly hurling boss mixes management duties and his exploits as a player with Ballyhale Shamrocks.

The 34-year-old is taking his first steps into inter-county management with the Faithful County as he looks to turn around their fortunes after a disastrous few seasons which resulted in back-to-back relegations.

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Offaly will operate from the championship's third tier in 2020 and their preparations for the Christy Ring Cup have already begun.

All the while, the eight-time All-Ireland winner is still leading Ballyhale from centre-back as the reigning All-Ireland club champions chase Leinster success against Carlow's St Mullins on Sunday week.

His playing commitments caused a fixture reshuffle for Offaly with his first competitive game in charge - at home to Kildare in the Kehoe Cup - brought forward to Saturday week 30 to avoid a clash.

It is a unique situation for most people to find themselves in but Fennelly (is well acquainted with having a lot on his plate having mixed his work as a performance coach with the Kildare footballers in 2019, alongside his club duties.

That stretched all the way to St Patrick's Day as he captained Ballyhale to the Tommy Moore Cup but should they reach that stage this season, it will be played at the earlier date of January 19.

Trials and player fitness screening have already taken place with Offaly in recent weeks and former Galway panellist Martin Dolphin, an All-Ireland club hurling winner with Portumna, is in the provisional squad for the coming season.

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