An hour before his final round at the USPGA, Shane Lowry was texting Michael Duignan about Offaly
Things are moving well in county Offaly.
With enough soul-searching and controversies to do them the next 20 years and with so many rock bottoms hit that they were at nothing only building quarries, for Offaly GAA, it looks like the dog days may finally be over.
Offaly, that once magical county with its long and storied GAA tradition is building once more. Having Michael Duignan, the former hurler, GAA personality and pundit, in as the chairman has obviously helped to turn the thing around but he's not the type of fella who's going to just stand here and take the credit for it.
From the outside looking in, the best thing Duignan does is trust the people he's surrounded himself with and for the first time in a long time, every Faithful soul seems to be pulling in the one direction.
The harmony has extended to the most important place of all too, with the Offaly seniors winning their camogie, ladies football, hurling and gaelic games in the National League at the weekend.
Duignan chatted to Colm Parkinson on Thursday's GAA Hour Show and to give a flavour of the good work being done, he described the emphasis being put on underage club games ahead of the restrictive development squads.
"We felt things needed to be done differently," says the former St Rynagh's player.
"A lot of things haven't even come to fruition yet. We have plans to increase our underage games programme from 260 matches in 2019 to about 550 matches in a full year. Development squads will fit into that but in a much lesser scale.
"We had been using development squads as our only means of progress but I felt we couldn't do that because we don't have the numbers. We can't be leaving all those people behind. It's okay for the bigger counties, to pluck 20 out at every age group and hope they get one or two, but we need to bring everyone forward. The amount of clubs that have started nurseries, the schools have always played a huge part in our success as well and we're getting in there to support them as well."
Damien Hayes is BACK, he's back with a bang 👊
- Preparing for a game by doing a good day's work on the farm 👨🌾
- One tale of a lost sheep he has to deny 🐑
- Michael Duignan on the man, the myth, the one and only Shane Lowry 🟢⚪️🟠
The hurling show👇https://t.co/JglMJkvdjI pic.twitter.com/PTgbiSiN5v
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) May 27, 2021
That would seem to be a good move for Offaly, there's no doubt about that, but the best move of all has been made by Clara's own Shane Lowry who has pledged not just his financial backing but more importantly, his time to his home county.
"Shane Lowry is just an incredible person. This isn't any sort of a gimmick. I got a text off him last Sunday when I was coming back from Carlow, at 4.00 and it was an hour before he teed off in the final round of the USPGA, just saying what a great weekend it was for Offaly and keep it going. He was obviously going from the practice range to the putting green or whatever he was doing, but he was looking at the results. That's Shane Lowry."
That's Shane Lowry.
"The financial contribution is great. That's up to us what we're going to do with that. But the fact that he wants to be involved...we're not sure exactly what it will entail. It might be talking to the underage squads at the Faithful fields, helping with corporate events, it's just incredible to have him involved."
The noises are good noises coming out of Offaly these days.