ONCE again this week Offaly is in the national sporting headlines for all the wrong reasons. Three months after Tom Cribbin stepped down from the position, there is still no new manager in place for the Senior Football team.
By Damian Moran, Sports Editor, Offaly Express
And now the captain is threatening to withdraw his services. Could it get any worse?
Worryingly it could. The seemingly endless process looks set to go for another while at least after the three candidates in the shake-up, Tom Coffey, Jack Sheedy and Stephen Darby, all now seem to be gone by the wayside.
While the handing of the situation has been incredibly ham-fisted in the past week and has been the usual PR disaster for the county leaving us a laughing stock once again, the foundation for this latest shambles was laid three months ago the very day the process started.
In the understandable anger vented through social media and in various public houses across the county, the blame seems to be laid squarely at the feet of some faceless entity known as ‘The County Board’.
What seems to have escaped the attention of the ordinary club member is that the County Board is in fact made up by the clubs and some of the delegates charged with representing their members have serious questions to answer.
When the selection committees were being set up to begin the search for new managers, County Board Chairman Pat Teehan wanted to appoint five man committees himself. That wasn’t satisfactory for some of the more vocal club delegates who demanded, and were eventually granted, the right to chose seven man selection committees.
Anyone who has ever sat on a committee where a consensus needs to be reached will tell you that seven people on a committee like this was simply too many. Never was the cliche ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ more apt. Trying to get five people together to meet is difficult. Organising numerous meetings with seven people looks to have been infinitely harder.
A special county board meeting was organised with the clubs given the opportunity to nominate people for the committee but the representation of clubs at that meeting was simply pathetic given the vehement arguments that were given to allow the clubs select the committees. One club in particular, whose delegate was the most opposed to the County Board Chairman selecting the committees and who fired accusations left, right and centre, did not turn up for the special meeting.
But that club was not alone. Would you like to hazard a guess at how many clubs were represented given that selection committees for senior hurling and senior football managements were being decided?
In fact just under half of the 43 clubs in the county were not represented. The attendance from the traditional football clubs was particularly bad with a third of senior clubs alone not present Another ten traditional football clubs between Intermediate and Junior also didn’t attend.
Was your club represented? I’d hazard a guess that the majority of you who are members of clubs have no idea either way.
This was the foundation laid by the clubs of Offaly for selecting new managers and is it any wonder the way the whole house has come crashing down.
In saying that, the County Board Executive is far from blameless. While the County Board is a democracy, Pat Teehan should have insisted that the committees were kept at a manageable five instead of giving in to the mob mentality.
Even after that there is no way that the process should have been allowed drag on this long and leadership was needed to avert the fiasco that has now occurred. The appointment of Ollie Baker took nearly as long but thankfully that was completed before it also blew up on the national stage.
When you consider that Ollie Baker does not have selectors in place, it appears that the two separate selection committees are working to different standards given that it appears that Stephen Darby was being forced to add another selector.
Whatever happens next (and let’s hope something positive happens soon) Offaly are again handicapped before a ball is kicked.
Captain Niall McNamee vented his understandable frustration and has threatened to not play next year.
Something needs to be done this week to resolve the situation. Real leadership is shown in a crisis and it is up to Pat Teehan to take control even it means usurping the power of a committee that has proved itself not fit for purpose.
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