On Monday, the now-former Offaly Senior hurling manager Kevin Ryan resigned from his position after just eight months in charge.
Overall, 2017 has been a year to forget for the Faithful County as they were comprehensively beaten by Galway in the Leinster SHC semi-final on a scoreline of 0-33 to 1-11, before bowing out of the qualifiers after a 24-point defeat to Waterford in front of their home crowd at Tullamore.
In Ryan’s statement, he voiced that if his reappointment was to happen, “it would be divisive and [would] make progress for Offaly hurling extremely difficult.”
He then went on to say that “an Offaly person with traditionalist values would best fill the needs of the Senior hurlers and the hurling public” and that a “root and branch review needs to be carried out” if they want to be back at a competitive level.
Here, we assess five potential candidates that may be approached by the Offaly County board in the upcoming weeks.
5. John Meyler
Meyler was recently in the news for his emotional interview after his u-21 Cork side clinched victory against Waterford in the Munster semi-final. His passion and love for the game were highlighted in the post-match interview, but his previous managerial roles would suggest that he lives for hurling.
In the past, Meyler has managed Wexford, Carlow and Kerry and he laid down strong foundations in each of those counties. Clearly, an underage restructure and “review” is needed, and certainly, John Meyler has a strong record. After Cork’s u-21 campaign comes to a close, it would be no surprise to hear of Offaly approaching the Wexford man.
4. Danny Owens
Nationally, Danny Owens would be the least well-known person on this list but in the Faithful County, he would be very much respected as a former player and manager. In 2010, Owens was appointed the manager of his local club, Kilcormac/Killoughey and in his five-year reign, he architected an unbelievable rise for the Offaly club side.
In his spell as manager, he led Kilcormac/Killoughey to three Offaly senior club championships from 2012-2014 and one Leinster championship in 2012. Certainly, Owens has the credentials to become the next Offaly hurling manager.
3. Colm Bonnar
Bonnar is currently managing Carlow, but after an extremely successful year after comprehensively beating Antrim to win the Christy Ring Cup, he may be a well-sought after manager. Previously, Bonnar has previously managed the Model county and was part of Justin McCarthy’s panel of selectors when he was in charge of Waterford.
At the moment, Offaly are near the same level as Carlow and after a successful year, the Faithful county board may set their eyes on Bonnar to progress their county in a similar fashion as he did Barrow-side.
2. Anthony Daly
Previously Daly managed the Dublin senior hurling team and laid down the foundations needed for the capital to compete at senior inter-county level. While Daly guided the Dublin hurling team to a monumental Leinster hurling final win in 2013, it was the professional structures he set in place that oversaw huge developments within the Dublin hurling set-up for years to follow too. After six years at the helm in Dublin, he was appointed director of underage coaching in Limerick which further highlights the respect counties have for his professional approach.
Right now, that approach is what Offaly hurling is missing, however, Daly’s return to inter-county management would seemingly come at a costly price for the Offaly County board and that could be off-putting.
1. Michael Duignan
Even though Duignan admitted that the new Offaly manager has a daunting task on his hands, it is clear that the now RTÉ pundit has an undying love for his native county. In a recent poll on the Offaly Express where fans were asked who they would like to see as their new hurling manager, Duignan came in third place.
His love for his county, his knowledge of Offaly hurling, his straightforward way of speaking and his traditional values certainly places him high on the list. Duignan may follow a similar route to his RTÉ counterparts, Eddie Brennan and Kevin McStay if he opts to take the leap into inter-county management.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena
Listen to the latest episode of The 16th Man where we spoke to former Tipp hurler Shane McGrath ahead of the All-Ireland quarter-finals.