Surprise in Offaly as Kilkenny legend Michael Fennelly to become senior hurling manager
MICHAEL Fennelly is set to be the next Offaly senior hurling manager.
The eight-time All-Ireland winner is the choice of the Offaly management committee, according to a statement released by the county board tonight.
Fennelly, who captained Ballyhale Shamrocks to this year’s club All-Ireland, had been working with the Kildare footballers in the role of performance coach during Cian O’Neill’s final season in charge.
He will take the job on a two-year basis with an option for a third.
"The aim of this appointment is to bring pride and stability back to the Offaly jersey with the support of Michael and his backroom team," read the statement.
"Michael brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and competence in all aspects of the modern-day team preparation.
"This is a challenging task and to be successful it will need the support of the players, their families, the clubs and all the people involved in Offaly GAA."
The appointment represents a significant coup for Offaly, whose fall from grace accelerated to alarming depths this year.
Under Kevin Martin, they finished fifth in Division 1B and were relegated to the newly-restructured Division 2A for 2020 after losing a relegation play-off with Carlow.
Worse still was their demotion to the Christy Ring Cup, the third tier of championship hurling, after losing all four of their Joe McDonagh matches.
In May, Martin was relieved of his duties in an attempt to arrest the team’s slide in fortunes, with Joachim Kelly taking over as an interim basis for their subsequent matches against Antrim and Kerry, both of which Offaly lost.
According to the official statement: "Michael is confident of what he has learnt in his later years as a player and has always conveyed a passionate interest in the dynamics of the manager’s role.
"This is shown through his commitment off the field by studying for a doctorate in leadership sport.
"Michael is looking forward to the upcoming Offaly club championship and will use these games as the platform to choose his panel for 2020.”
"Michael is due to ratify his backroom team in the coming weeks. This is a very important time for Offaly hurling and we want to wish Michael all the best over the coming year with his backroom team and new panel of players."