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Kelly enlists Sheedy as Offaly strive to halt slump and return to glory years


Eamonn Kelly

Eamonn Kelly

Eamonn Kelly

The position of Offaly senior hurling manager might not hold the prestige it did 15 years ago but new boss Eamonn Kelly cannot wait to raise the county's standards and defy challenging times.

Optimism was boosted in the Midlands when former All-Ireland-winning Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy was appointed chair of the selection committee and Kelly is delighted to keep him involved.

His services were also enlisted during his reign as Kerry manager and Kelly believes the expertise offered in a mentoring role, to include monthly meetings with management and players, will be invaluable to the set-up.

"Liam has done a lot of investigating under the bonnet as to why Offaly hurling isn't where it should be. He believes there is a huge passion here and the remark he passed to me was that if he had the time, he'd do the job himself. That's a huge blessing," Kelly told the Irish Independent.

"They won't know me from Adam and I understand that. I have to earn the respect and trust of the players but having someone there who they see on the television, and who has been there and done that, will be a massive addition."

Offaly are starved of success at all grades since 2000 but having guided the Kingdom to Division 1B of the league and Christy Ring Cup honours, Kelly has a proven inter-county track record.

The Kildangan native is bursting with enthusiasm after being formally ratified on Tuesday night and he hopes to bring new levels of professionalism to propel the Faithful up the hurling ladder.

"The best players in Kerry did not play with us the last two years because they hadn't the commitment that was required so I want guys that are prepared to go the extra mile. Some will like that and some won't," he said.

"I don't have a magic wand but I will try to keep things as professional and enjoyable as I can and players respond to that. The players will react if they see this is one of the most professional set-ups that they have been involved in.

"There's a possibility to do something here and having met the county board and the committee, they're anxious to get things done. It's the right fit for me right now and I can't wait to get started."

The Acorn Life Tipperary branch manager has a massive thirst for knowledge and constantly strives to update his professional and managerial skills through courses, seminars and attending various training sessions.

He was blessed to be granted "a fly on the wall role" with Anthony Foley's Munster side last year where he gained huge experience of what it takes to succeed at elite level.

"Munster looked at judo to see how to bring fellas down easier and I would be huge into doing something different. You can pick up something new from anyone and I have to develop ideas that they haven't done before," Kelly stressed.

"Maybe at the start they won't buy into it. I'm around a while and I know there will be lads thinking we should've got a better manager than him, but it's up to me to win their hearts and minds."

Kelly has cut a holiday to Lanzarote short to attend the Offaly senior hurling quarter-finals this weekend and plans to replicate the progress of neighbours Laois, though he knows it will take time.

"I think you need to put proper KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) in place. You have to tell people what's expected of them to bring success. You have to start at the very bottom and build it up, that's what Laois are doing," the current Sixmilebridge boss said.

"They've had a very professional outfit the last few years and it's starting to pay dividends. That didn't happen overnight. It's going to take a while to wash it out but people who come on board will notice a sea of change straight away.

Kelly will commence training with his new panel in early November and he aims to entice some exiled hurlers back into the fold and return to the Leinster Championship proper.

"There are some fantastic hurlers over in London at the minute and if at all possible they should be back in Offaly. If they haven't got work then we need to get work for them. We really need all hands on deck to get this right," he noted.

"Our target is to consolidate our league position. Then our sole focus is to get back into the Leinster Championship where we belong."

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