Thursday 24 October 2019

Fennelly: Sacrifices must be made if Offaly want to prosper

Colin Fennelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Colin Fennelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The personnel in his Offaly squad will only take shape in the coming months but new Faithful hurling boss Michael Fennelly knows exactly what he wants and insists that "sacrifices will have to be made" by his charges if they are to survive.

Offaly have slipped off the hurling radar in recent years with successive relegations seeing them ply their trade in the Christy Ring Cup for 2020 and Fennelly is tasked with restoring things next year.

The Kilkenny legend - an eight-time All-Ireland winner - has no goals for his squad as of yet but will make high demands of players as they look to bounce back to the Joe McDonagh Cup next season.

"I just need to get them up to a high standard. I have high standards and I'll be demanding that from my management team and I'll be demanding it from the players. It goes back to accountability on them and responsibility," Fennelly said.

"If you don't have that and commitment levels, well then inter-county might not be for you and that's the bones of it. Sacrifices have to be made, you have to be selfish in it too. That's the way it was for me.

"You have to put it first and then there is a balance on it in terms of family and kids and stuff but if you want to be the best you really have to put yourself first. So I'll be sitting down with the lads and going through what our goals are for the year basically from November time."

As a rookie manager stepping into inter-county management at just 34, Fennelly knows he will make some mistakes along the way but he is intent on changing the culture around the Faithful after falling away from hurling's top table in recent years.

"I think culture and foundations have to be laid here. Where Offaly is at the moment we need to get back to basics and fundamentals. Get back to a bit of belief. I'm a big believer in culture and laying foundations," the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman said.

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"Goals will come on top of that as well and that's where we need to go. If you don't have all that you can bring in whoever you want and there will be cracks all over the place so that's where I'll be going first and building that.

"That will take time, it's not a few weeks or months, it's a good year or two years to build that. It's not a flick of the switch here in terms of November and December, it's going to be a lot of work involved coming into the year."

Given his expertise in strength and conditioning and coaching - he worked as a performance coach with the Kildare footballers in 2019 - Fennelly intends to be "hands on" in terms of training sessions.

And despite playing under Brian Cody - the 11-time All-Ireland-winning manager who is widely acclaimed as the game's finest - Fennelly intends to be his own man, but he will take one particular lesson from the Cats boss.

"Brian is very articulate. When he talks, he talks. He's very good in meetings, he wouldn't hold a meeting for no reason. Nothing would be dragged out and I like that. Players want to come to training and they want to go home as well.

"That's something I'll be taking on board more than anything. Anything that's required, there has to be a crux for it basically. So that's one of the main things that I realise from working with Brian," he said.

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