Cian O'Neill wishes Kildare players well in eloquent resignation statement
Cian O'Neill has called it a day.
A disappointing championship exit against Tyrone in St Conleth's Park will be Cian O'Neill's final game as the Kildare senior football manager after he decided to resign from his position on Tuesday morning.
The round 4 qualifier exit acted as a backward step from the year previous when after beating Mayo at the same stage, O'Neill and Kildare advanced to the Super 8s.
The county disappointed at the quarter final stages, losing each one of their games but there were legitimate hopes in the county that they would improve on that this year. An All-Ireland winning under-20 team boosted the fanfare and the expectations.
But the improvement wasn't to follow. Loss of key player Daniel Flynn was undoubtedly a huge blow to their year. He didn't commit while an injury to Paul Cribbin also held them back.
And it has all led to the O'Neill calling time on his tenure. O'Neill previously worked with the Tipperary hurlers as a physical trainer in their 2010 All-Ireland winning season and his held in very high regard for his sporting expertise.
His time at Kildare will be best remembered by the 'Newbridge or Nowhere' furore, when he backed his players and his county to the hilt.
Kildare manager Cian O'Neill tells RTÉ his players will be in Newbridge on Saturday evening, not Croke Park pic.twitter.com/2qxU3cqBKf
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) June 25, 2018
There was a sense within the county however, that the time had come for him to move on, with Johnny Doyle catching the mood on The GAA Hour Show recently.
"Look, he's been here four years. Has he brought this group as far as he can? People around the county would probably say yes, he has, and it is time for a change," said Doyle.
"In fairness to Cian, he's working down in Cork. It's a long track up for him, you know, three or four times a week. I'm sure when he sits down at home, and has a chat, maybe does he have the grá to keep at it? Because that's a big commitment to go time and time again.
"It's a difficult one to know. I think he probably has brought this group... it might be time to bring a bit of freshness to the group. It might be no harm. But he has done a lot of good work there."
O'Neill departed with a typically eloquent statement, which read as follows.
"Having recently informed the Players, Management and Backroom, I met with the Co. Board yesterday to inform them of my decision to step down from my role as Kildare Senior Football Team Manager. As a proud Kildare man, it was an honour and privilege to have been given the opportunity to work with an exceptional group of players, each one of us doing our best to represent our clubs and county with distinction at all times. Unfortunately, the successes of consecutive promotions from Division 3 to Division 1, a 1st Leinster Final in 8 years and progression to the Super 8’s in 2018 was met with equal disappointment across these 4 years where frustratingly we didn’t always reach our potential as a group. As Manager, this is my greatest regret and ultimately my responsibility, and this undoubtedly informed my decision to step away from this role. This will hopefully leave time and space for my successor and the chosen group of players to take the challenge to a new level under a new direction.
"I would like to pay a particular mention to our main sponsor, Bill and John O’ Brien and all the Brady Family group, who have always offered great support to the team and indeed Kildare GAA as a whole. I would also like to thank Joe, Anthony and Philip Mallon from Joe Mallon Motors for their continued support throughout my tenure. To Richard Meehan and the Meehan Family Food Group, Paddy Kelly in Tegral, Nick Egan in Britvic, David, Cyril and Éamonn in Mongey Communications, and finally Pat Cronly, a great friend of the players; thank you for all of your selfless help and support at all times, most of which was done quietly and without fuss, but when it was needed most by the group. To those loyal supporters who stood by us through thick and thin, thank you for backing what we were trying to achieve, even when we didn’t give you enough to shout about!
"I would also like to thank the Club Kildare Team for your continued backing of our group over the last number of years and best wishes for the really exciting developments planned for the near future. To Ger and all the Co. Board, a special thank you for putting your trust and faith in me 4 years ago when Kildare were at a particularly low ebb, having been relegated to Division 3. Everyone in the KSF set up is acutely aware of the constant support and backing that you gave to us, in difficult times and good, and we all really appreciate that.
"To my friends and colleagues in the Management Team – Alan, Tom and Karl – and also to those who went before you, thank you for bringing an unbridled level of trust, loyalty, passion and excellence to the set up; something that the players and I will be forever indebted to you for, on both a personal and professional level. To the team behind the team, a sincere thank you to each and every member of the Backroom whose professionalism and expertise helped to create a high performance environment that many professional sports teams would be envious of. And finally to an incredible bunch of players … it was truly an honour to have worked with you all over the last 4 years. Your effort, diligence and commitment to be the best player you could be was what kept us all going in difficult times and laid the foundation for our relative successes in the good times. Your journey is only starting in many ways – every season takes on a life of its own – so I look forward to watching and supporting you all in the months and years ahead. There is so much uncertainty in sport and life, but one thing that I am certain of is that you are a credit to your club, your county and your families.
"Finally, to my wife, Tammy; father, Peter; and all of my family and friends; I thank you for your unrelenting and unwavering support, belief and patience ever since this journey began. I couldn’t have given all that I gave to this role without your backing and support. After 4 years of travelling from Cork to Kildare 3-4 times a week, and with it a level of commitment and selfishness that means other aspects of life undoubtedly suffer, it’s time to hand the baton over.
Thanks for everything men – Cill Dara Abú.