Offaly have confirmed the addition of Kerry’s five-time All-Ireland winner Tomás Ó Sé to their football management team for 2022, the first time Ó Sé will take up a senior intercounty role.
The news came as the Offaly GAA management committee formally recommended the reappointment of John Maughan and Michael Fennelly as managers of the county senior football and hurling teams respectively for 2022. It then added that "former Kerry footballer Tómas O Sé will join the football management team".
Currently in charge of Cork club side Glanmire, who will compete in this year’s intermediate championship, Ó Sé will continue in that role before joining up with Maughan in Offaly for 2022, as they embark on a Division Two campaign of the Allianz Football League for the first time in 17 years, following promotion earlier this year with Derry.
Ó Sé has also previously coached Sigerson Cup with UCC, his move into the Offaly set-up somewhat unexpected but certainly welcomed by the county: Ó Sé has also won five All Stars and was Footballer of the Year in 2009.
"He will be a big addition," Offaly GAA chairman Michael Duignan told RTÉ. "We have been speaking to Tomás in the last few weeks. John Maughan already has a very strong management team in place and Tomás coming on board will add to it.
“Tomás is involved with the Glanmire team in Cork and he will be fully committed to them for this season. We look forward to him coming on board with us after that. He is one of the greats and as a player he was always one I was most impressed with.”
Offaly football has been rising in other ways too, and last month won their first All-Ireland under-20 football title since 1988 with a dazzling win over Roscommon.
Maughan will be heading into his fourth season with Offaly in 2022, 33 years after taking up his first football assignment with Clare (guiding them to an historic Munster title in 1992); his intercounty management journey has since taken him to Mayo (twice), Fermanagh and Roscommon, though there was always some link with Offaly too.
“We know there is a very, very proud tradition in Offaly, hurling and football,” Maughan told The Irish Times recently. “In my formative years, when I was a boarder in Carmelite, Moate, a few miles from Tullamore, a lot of my idols were from Offaly, and at that time Walsh Island were the quality side. To see the county fall the last few years wasn’t nice.
“I said before I’d no great intention to get back involved with intercounty football, but when Offaly asked me to go for an interview, and I met a couple of guys I’d been in school with, they painted a picture for me, and because I was aware of the great tradition, that drew me in, and it’s a great place to be.
"The likes of Shane Lowry coming in as well, showing his support, that does mean a lot to the players. It might be a corporate day down the road, but even a gesture of that magnitude, from one of the top golfers in the world, that resonates with the players. If you're an Offaly player of course you'd react to that, and I've noticed the last 12 or 14 months in particular, whereas before you might struggle to get everyone, now they all want to play.
“Things are improving, the chairman and executive have big plans to get more games development officers into schools, and we have a super centre of excellence here at Faithful Fields, something we don’t even have down here in Mayo. You can see the energy being generated around there, it’s very positive, and a good news story. There’s no guarantee of success but promotion is a nice little bounce, given everyone a little boost.”
After beating Louth in the Leinster championship, Offaly lost narrowly to neighbours Kildare, managed by former Kerry manager Jack O’Connor, after which Maughan said: “I’d say the last three years, it would have been a giant leap forward to take a scalp like Kildare, and we’re getting closer, we’re getting competitive, and things are looking up for Offaly football.”