County Board wakes up and smells the ‘Coffey’

FOR the second time in four years Rhode’s Tom Coffey has been chosen as the interim manager of the Offaly Senior Football team.

FOR the second time in four years Rhode’s Tom Coffey has been chosen as the interim manager of the Offaly Senior Football team.

The Rhode native was appointed on Sunday just two days after former manager Gerry Cooney had stepped aside. He also stepped in in 2009 following the departure of Richie Connor.

To facilitate preparations for the Leinster Senior Championship opener with Kildare on June 17 in O’Moore Park, it is now expected that just one round of the Senior Football Championship will be played before then.

That will allow the new manager roughly six weeks of preparation time for the showdown with the Lilywhties. His initial job once selectors are appointed, is to get a panel together and to see if any players who opted out under the previous regime will be available.

Speaking following his appointment, Tom said he is proud to get the job adding that the best players available will play.

“I’m very proud to get the opportunity. Obviously I ran before and would have been disappointed at the time but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“The panel is by no means closed. If there is someone out there and they are ready to go, they’ll be getting the call. If the young guys are doing it, they’ll be the lads getting the jersey. If there’s an older guy, a more seasoned player performing better, then the jersey will go to him. It’s about getting the best 15 at the present moment on the field for the Kildare game.”

He looks set to be without the services of midfielder Brian Connor, one of Offaly’s best players in the league, who is reportedly going to America for the summer. Another key player, Niall McNamee, faces an extended period on the sidelines due to injury and it is touch and go whether he will be available for the Championship opener. McNamee has been taking training since the departure of Gerry Cooney.

Tom Coffey’s first priority is to get things back on an even keel.

“It doesn’t appear to be going well in there at the moment. Things look to be very loose. We’ll be looking to get ourselves right. We’ll be looking for players who are ready to go now rather than spending a few months with them that we haven’t got. It’s looking at settling the team down and getting a game plan and getting guys that want to wear the jersey.“

Coffey was appointed on an interim basis following the shock resignation of Gerry Cooney which was announced last Friday morning in a statement released by the County Board.

In that statement Offaly County Board Chairman Pat Teehan stated that it was ‘with regret that he reluctantly accepted the resignation’.

The decision came after Gerry Cooney and his management team had a meeting with the players last Thursday night. Following that meeting he tendered his resignation in what he described as ‘the best interest of Offaly Football’.

Pat Teehan thanked Gerry for his ‘loyalty, commitment and 100% dedication to the long term future of Offaly football’.

In the wake of the departure of Gerry County, the County Board executive acted quickly to fill the position on an interim basis. The Offaly Express understands that a number of individuals expressed an interest however the decision was made to appoint Tom Coffey.

Currently the manager of Athlone, Tom Coffey was in contention for the job during the initial appointment process last when Tom Cribbin stepped down but he withdrew from the process as it stretched into mid October.

This time there was no such delay and just over 48 hours after the announcement that Gerry Cooney had resigned was made, Tom Coffey was installed as interim manager.

Tom Coffey has considerable managerial experience at both club and inter-county level. A Leinster Championship medal winner in 1997 with Offaly, he was a selector with the Offaly Minor Footballers in a successful spell from 2004 to 2006, he took charge of the Offaly U-21s in 2007 and guided them to the Leinster Final where they were unfortunate to lose to Laois. At club level he has brought Rhode to three Senior County Finals, winning two. Rhode also reached the Leinster Club Final in 2008 and 2010.