"Six or seven players said that they wouldn't go back if Steven Wallace continues as manager of Offaly"

Brian Gavin details turmoil in the Offaly camp between players and management

BY Jason Brennan 22:09 Tuesday 15 May 2018, 22:09 15 May 2018

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

There something rotten in the state of Offaly football.

Having lost their Leinster Championship opener 1-20 to 1-15 at the hands of Wicklow, a number of stories have found their way to both the media and public consumption about troubles between the management team and the Offaly players.

Speaking to Off The Ball this evening, four-time All-Ireland Hurling Final referee Brian Gavin detailed some of the incidents that led up to the bad blood between squad members and Stephen Wallace's team, noting players leaving the panel during the league campaign, video footage emerging of Wallace appearing to punch a player while on the sideline of a club match in Kerry, and the verbally abusive nature of the coaches during training.

"In the Fermanagh game in the league there was words exchanged with one of our better players, Johnny Maloney from Tullamore who'd be centre-back. There were words with management there, it escalated, we thought it might be resolved within a week or two, it wasn't and Johnny Maloney walked away from the panel unfortunately".

"There was a sickening feeling around Offaly when the video footage came through of the Stephen Wallace incident from Kerry. Even from the players' point of view, here's a man that's over them, that they really respected and were getting on well...I'll just touch on Billy Sheehan for a second. 

"The players really enjoyed the training Billy Sheehan was doing with them, they said it was as good as they'd ever been at, but their man management and their shouting, their F'n and blinding at players didn't go down well". 

While that may have been in advance of the weekend's loss, Gavin pointed a number of problems that occurring around that single game that could have led to the breakdown of the relationship.

"Rory Allen went travelling to Australia, now he's only home three weeks and he started at wing forward. You can imagine some of the players that have been there since October or November, training hard, going through the mill, maybe even five times a week they've been training and Rory Allen starts. So that leads to a little bit of descent in the camp".

"Nigel Dunne was called aside seven minutes to go before half-time, and in the commentary booth we couldn't believe what we were looking at. As the second half started we got word that Nigel Dunne was heading for the car park and was going home, and as we all know it wasn't Nigel's first time to go, but 15 minutes into the second half we realised we didn't have a free-taker".

"Maybe the management panicked and put Nigel back on, which was drastic. The players on the field were under the impresson that Nigel Dunne was gone at this stage. Here he is back on the pitch, then we get a penalty and Nigel takes it. It's the worst case scenario and it's saved, and it's a disaster really".

James Lawlor was told that he wouldn't be starting only an hour-and-a-half before the throw in, while Sean Pender who began the game at fullback had words with the management team after being taken off. Gavin was unwilling to name names, but said that there are a number of players currently considering their future with the county if Wallace remains in charge.

"It's a fact that six or seven of the players said that they would not go back if Steven Wallace continues on as manager of Offaly. We only have 26 or 27 training as it is, so we couldn't lose another six or seven, that's for certain".


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