While hurling has been grabbing everyone’s attention after what has been one of the best championships, in some counties it’s still very much forgotten about. One county in particular is Longford.
Early this month hurling manager Colum O’Meara was told he wouldn’t be back next year as manager. The announcement went unnoticed unlike when football manager Denis Connerton departed his role as football manager; the county board released a statement thanking him.
The decision over O’Meara was a surprise, most notably amongst the players who expected the Galway man to be in charge next year. The players are disappointed about the decision.
One of them spoke to Sportstalk. He said: “We are disappointed more so than anything; looking back on the year it was a positive year. Results in the league mightn’t say that. Colum and the management team brought in a new type of passion for hurling. Colum was a players’ manager. There was definitely some conflict there between him and the county board as the year went on. Colum did whatever he could for the players.”
O’Meara was popular amongst his players. He won the Kehoe Cup for the first time in the county’s history earlier this year. Although they were relegated from Division 3B there were positives to take from this year. “He is was in for the hurling. He lives for hurling the way he carried on. He had an unbelievable passion. He tried to instill that in us. A lot of players really bought into it. I guess the major problem in Longford is the lack of numbers. I think there’s about 60 hurlers in the whole of the county.”
The player did say that O’Meara had a tough time with the county board trying to secure various things for his players. One issue was over the purchasing of sliotars: “I don’t know the ins and outs of a lot of issues. Colum had a lot of problems with the county board; even getting sliotars. The players get money from the GPA to have a bonding session etc. but we asked the GPA rep to use the money to buy sliotars to have for training. There was a lot of things like that.”
Most of the hurlers in Longford play football and that was hard for O’Meara. The month of April was tough because he didn’t have time with his players to prepare for important Nicky Rackard games: “The month of April is the month for clubs and when the league finished in March we were told to wind down the training because the clubs were having their matches. The big problem in Longford is when the players go back to their clubs it’s all football; they don’t do hurling. The lack of training led to poor preparation for championship. We went out against Monaghan and were destroyed on the day. The big thing with Longford is that they don’t get enough hurling. Hurling is something you need to be constantly at.”
After their final Nicky Rackard game the players had to write down how they felt the year went and then they met up to hear the feedback. O’Meara’s relationship with the county board was something that came up: “We all put down how we felt the year had went and then met up for feedback. One issue we did bring up was we knew there was conflict with the county board and Colum. We said if that was resolved and relationships were better things would be good going forward.”
Some players also met with the county board and they felt the meeting was very positive; little did they know what was going to happen: “We had a positive meeting with the county board and gave them feedback. The players did say to try and keep the same management because there was a positive vibe with the players. The main thing from the players respective was that the county board needed to promote the game from the grassroots up.”
There has been very little talk of a new hurling manager in Longford. The players are still coming to terms with the decision not retain O’Meara: “From a players perspective it was the way forward to keep him. It takes a year to settle into a team especially when you are an outsider. Colum did everything for the players. Once you have that bond there the players will put in the effort.”
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