Sport Hurling

Friday 15 December 2017

Offaly hurlers out in the cold

Faithful duo slam County Board following Tullamore debacle

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Two former Offaly players have ramped up the pressure on the County Board by accusing them of putting finance ahead of the promotion of hurling.

Their comments came as the Offaly executive committee held a meeting to discuss a letter from the Offaly senior hurling team management and players hitting out at the manner in which they were shut-out out of O'Connor Park in Tullamore and prevented from training on Saturday morning last.

Daithi Regan, midfielder on the 1994 All-Ireland-winning team, branded the treatment as "disgraceful" and predicted that it will "escalate," while Michael Duignan, an All-Ireland winner in 1994 and '98 said the incident was the "straw that broke the camel's back" in what is a much bigger issue with hurling in the county.

O'Connor Park in Tullamore has become the exclusive home for all Offaly inter-county teams since the €7.2m redevelopment was completed in 2006. But hurling people in Offaly want St Brendan's Park in Birr to be restored as the home of hurling. They don't feel they should be compelled to play all their games in Tullamore when the ground is not always made available to them for training.

The shut-out on Saturday morning came after some players were denied access to O'Connor Park ahead of their scheduled time and a member of the backroom team was warned that a vehicle he had parked close to the gates for the purposes of transporting equipment more efficiently would be removed if he didn't remove it himself.

James Rigney, an Offaly player who broke his hand recently, was put off the pitch by a member of the ground staff, as he attempted to do laps of the field around the perimeter in a pair of runners. The rest of the management and players subsequently packed up and left.

Duignan said the incidents "saddened" him.

"It's a fantastic development. I was one of the people on the fundraising committee that raised €1.2m for O'Connor Park and I certainly didn't raise that money or put in the effort that I did, so that county teams would be locked out of the facility," he said last night.

He said the incident was "unacceptable" for any county team.

"They are a very committed bunch of players. Their average age is just 23.


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