Michael Fennelly pictured during this year's league campaign with Offaly. Photo: Ger Rogers.

Offaly seeking new hurling boss after departure of Fennelly

Offaly has become the latest county who will have a new senior hurling manager for the 2023 season, after the departure of Michael Fennelly from the role.

Former Kilkenny midfield ace Fennelly, a winner of eight All-Ireland senior medals, has been in charge for three years and steered Offaly to Christy Ring Cup success last year.

However, Offaly were unable to reach the Joe McDonagh Cup final this year, with a defeat to Carlow causing them to lose out on scoring difference. Winning the McDonagh Cup was a key target as Offaly had aimed to regain their place in the Leinster SHC and Liam MacCarthy Cup.

But with the Offaly minor hurlers winning this year's Leinster title in impressive fashion and coming agonisingly close to securing the All-Ireland crown (they were only denied ultimate success by a last-gasp Tipperary goal), there is optimism that better times lie ahead.

In the 2021 Allianz Hurling League, Offaly secured promotion from Division 2A by winning all their games. But having competed against some very formidable opponents in Division 1 Group A this year, they were relegated back to Division 2A by virtue of a play-off defeat to Antrim.

In Fennelly's first year in charge (2020), Offaly lost to Down on penalties in the semi-finals of the Christy Ring Cup. This cost Offaly progression to the McDonagh Cup as both Ring Cup finalists moved up to the next hurling tier in that year.

In a statement, Offaly County Board said: "Offaly GAA wish to sincerely thank Michael Fennelly for his dedication and commitment as manager of the Offaly team for the past three years.

"Together will all the members of his management and backroom team, Michael always carried out his duties in a professional and courteous manner.

"Offaly GAA will this week begin the process of appointing a new senior hurling manager."

Offaly GAA chairman Michael Duignan said that Fennelly "instilled into the Offaly set-up the highest standards which he displayed as one of Kilkenny's greatest ever hurlers".

"Michael did his very best to improve the fortunes of Offaly hurling during a three-year period which had many interruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic."

Duignan concluded by wishing Fennelly and his family all the best for the future.

With John Maughan having recently stepped down as football manager, Offaly will have two new managers at the helm of their flagship teams next year.

And there will be considerable change to the overall managerial landscape in hurling next year. Fennelly's home county Kilkenny will have a new manager in 2023 after the departure of the legendary and incredibly successful Brian Cody.

Waterford are also seeking a new manager after the departure of Liam Cahill, who has since taken charge of his native Tipperary following the abrupt end of Colm Bonnar's reign.

In Cork, Pat Ryan has succeeded Kieran Kingston, while the Dublin hurlers are also seeking a new manager.