Offaly senior football manager Pat Flanagan has said he hopes nobody ever questions whether or not his players play for him again after they overcame Laois and avoided the dreaded drop to Division 4 of the Allianz Football League.
Speaking to Midlands 103 afterwards, Flanagan reflected on the "abuse" he and his players took during the league campaign, particularly following the 30-point loss to Armagh.
"I did feel sorry for my wife and family," Flanagan said as he spoke about the comments made about him in the wake of that defeat by individuals and club delegates at County Board level. "Some of the things said weren't nice and weren't justified," adding that, "at the end of the day, it's all about the players."
He heaped praise on his players for recovering from their early league woes, admitting that after the Armagh game, they treated the campaign as a "three-game league," knowing that his team needed to win at least two of the games.
He said the players were questioned, and it was questioned whether they play for him or not, and Flanagan was strong in saying, "I hope no one ever questions that again."
The players put in a gritty performance to overcome neighbours Laois on a scoreline of 3-15 to 4-11, and Pat Flanagan was happy with the way his team kept putting their heads in front, even when Laois came back at times, not least through Donie Kingston's hat-trick heroics.
"The players were phenomenal today," he said, adding that, "we had to win this game about four different times having been ahead by wide margins, but it is down to the passion of the players that we got there in the end." "We're always a good footballing team when the sun is shining, and all year we've been missing players who would be in our starting team, but at the end of the day, these players stuck to their guns and it's incredible - it's a credit to the players how well they've done today."
Pat Flanagan refused to rule out talisman Niall McNamee returning to the side this year having missed the entire league campaign. "I've spoken to Niall and he's hoping to possibly come back after a couple of rounds of the Championship if things work out for him."
The manager went on to say that the finish to the league is good preparation for their opening Leinster Championship clash against old rivals Westmeath in Tullamore in June. "You saw the battling nature and work-rate out there so there's nobody going to come here and have it easy and we'll prepare as well as we possibly can for the coming game," he concluded.
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