UíbhFhailí.com header image

[ Back to Articles Index ]

Joe Dooley fears Offaly will not win anything major again in his lifetime

by Gordon Manning was published in the Irish Mirror on Wednesday the 19th of July 2017

The former All-Ireland winner believes there is a long way to go if the Faithful County are to compete with the top sides

Dooley, whose son Shane is a key player on the county team, reckons the Faithful are a long way from a return to the glory days of the 1980s and 90s.

Joe, who managed his native county between 2008 and 2011, won three All-Irelands as a player — in 1985, 1994 and 1998.

But he has painted a worrying picture of their current standing in the game.

He said: “We’re not in a good place, to be honest.

“We have slipped a lot from the 1990s and the early-to-mid-2000s.

“I suppose we have to go back to the drawing board. We have taken our eye off the ball big time at underage level and at schools level.

“We have brilliant facilities now, a great stadium at O’Connor Park and a brand-new training facility, but we don’t have a great team.

“In the past, we had great teams but didn’t have great facilities.

“It’s hard on the current guys playing hurling and football in Offaly.

“They are putting in as much work and effort as the successful counties, knowing deep down they are probably not going to be winning Leinsters or All-Irelands.

“It’s a tough time to be involved. You have to admire the players who are sticking with it and wearing the jersey and putting in the effort.

“It’s not easy. I think we have accepted that we need to do something about it.

“We are better than we are actually playing. But to get back to the stage of winning anything major again, I’ll be lucky if it happens in my lifetime. It’s going to take a good number of years.”

Asked whether ‘anything major’ meant a Leinster senior title, the Seir Kieran man replied: “Yeah, we haven’t won anything of any consequence at all at any level.

“You are possibly looking at someone from as young as the Under-10s maybe eventually coming through, unless we are lucky and get a sprinkling of guys from different teams.

“But there isn’t any really good team coming through — even at schools level.”

Son Shane has been Offaly’s top marksman for a number of years and remains one of the best freetakers in the country.

But Joe is saddened by the plight Offaly hurling finds itself in.

He said: “When I was hurling with Offaly, every year we expected to win a Leinster, maybe even an All-Ireland. It was just the way we were programmed. Crucially, we had the players to do it.

“But nowadays, everything is negative. To stay playing under that kind of negativity is not easy.”

Offaly are now on the lookout for their third senior hurling manager in as many years after Kevin Ryan stepped down earlier this week.

Still, all it takes is one generation of players to come along and change the mindset in a county.

Dooley said: “I always equate Offaly to a small club in any county.

“We are never going to be up there all the time. We just don’t have the numbers or the population.

“Cork, Kilkenny and Tipperary are all big counties and will always be there or thereabouts.

“We’ll only produce a really good team every so often, then rely on a new generation further down the road. But it’s not going to happen any time soon.”

[ Back to Articles Index ]