'The mood is desperate in the Offaly camp'

May 14, 2018

Offaly manager Stephen Wallace in the stand while serving a ban.
©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan.

Stephen Wallace has lost the Offaly dressing-room, according to former All-Ireland hurling final referee Brian Gavin.

Serving an eight-week ban for an incident arising from a Kerry intermediate club game, the under-fire Offaly manager cut a lonely figure as he watched his Faithful County side crash to a shock Leinster SFC first round defeat to Wicklow from the O'Moore Park stand yesterday.

Gavin, who commentated on the game for Midlands 103 along with former Offaly defender Brian Darby, claimed there was major unrest in the camp and suggested that it was only a matter of time before Wallace and his management team departed.

"It's probably the darkest day in championship terms that we can remember in Offaly in a long time," the Clara man said in an interview with the same radio station afterwards.

"Ten to 12 players are missing from last year's panel and one wonders why they weren't going back into that set-up for Offaly. At the moment, with what's going on in the dressing room, Stephen Wallace and his management team have definitely lost the dressing room. There's a lot of unrest in the Offaly camp at the moment.

"A few examples, like we know, Johnny Moloney earlier in the year. He opted out after a disagreement with management. We can't afford to lose players like him. Young James Lalor was only told 40 minutes before the game that he wasn't starting.

"Nigel Dunne has been our top scorer in the National Football, he was starting to get into the game yesterday and after 25 minutes was taken off. He looked distraught, he was angry; one couldn't blame him.

"I think the mood in the dressing room at half-time - there was a lot of arguing, there was a lot of shouting, a lot of fighting.

"Nigel Dunne left the dressing room, he was heading to his car to go home, he was persuaded to come back. He came on in the second half and unfortunately missed a penalty. One couldn't blame the chap with the mindset he'd be in.

"Then Sean Pender was taken off and he told the management exactly what he thought about being taken off as well. The mood is desperate in the Offaly camp at the moment.

He added: "One can only imagine, the management positions are untenable at the moment and it's an unfortunate situation. If the county board don't act, the players will act. I just can't see Stephen Wallace and his management team last much longer."

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