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Michael Duignan hopes to continue in RTÉ role after being elected Offaly GAA chairman

The two-time All-Ireland winner will aim to balance his new job with his analysis and co-commentary work on The Sunday Game.

TWO-TIME ALL-IRELAND WINNER Michael Duignan, who was elected chairman of Offaly GAA last night, says he hopes to continue his work with RTÉ’s The Sunday Game.

Duignan was voted into the position at the county convention in O’Connor Park, Tullamore, last night, edging out long-serving chairman Tommy Byrne.

michael-duignan-and-anthony-daly Duignan on RTÉ duty with Anthony Daly last year. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

And the 51-year-old will now aim to balance his new top role with his analysis and co-commentary work on The Sunday Game, which he has been best-known for since his inter-county retirement in 2001.

Asked — in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner — whether we could expect to see his analysis on Offaly hurling on RTÉ after his appointment last night, Duignan told Midlands Sports’ Will O’Callghan:

“I don’t know about Offaly hurling now, because obviously it’s a Sunday Game rule if your county is playing, you’re not involved.

“But I’d love to see Offaly back in Croke Park and I’d love to be stepping away from the co-comm that day, if Offaly were in a Leinster final or an All-Ireland final. I’d have no problem stepping away. 

In general, I’m hoping to continue my work with The Sunday Game. I said that pre-election.

In an interesting interview, Duignan touched on some of his plans for the job at hand, and how he feels he can take Offaly GAA to the next level. 

The former dual star, who played for St Rynagh’s but is now with the Durrow club, was part of a representative group that met in Tullamore earlier this year to discuss their concerns over the direction of Offaly GAA, and determine if there was an “appetite for change” in the county.

The group — which also featured former Offaly hurler and manager Brian Whelahan, ex-county footballer Stephen Darby, Clara’s Brian Gavin and Dervill Dolan, and Edenderry’s Colm Cummins — met with Byrne and indicated that a change of leadership was required, a notion which he shot down at the time. 

michael-duignan-and-marty-morrissey In the commentary box at last year's Leinster hurling final with Marty Morrissey. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I was disillusioned with where we are,” Duignan explained last night when asked why he went for the role. “We could be doing better.

We’re not talking about winning All-Irelands but we are talking about being very competitive, much more competitive than we are in the short-term.

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“Particularly when I saw Offaly going into the Christy Ring and the draw for the Christy Ring last year, it really spurred me into life. I know the footballers are going quite well at the moment, but we are in a position that we shouldn’t be in. 

“I think we should be a lot more competitive, particularly against our neighbours. We’re just finding it difficult to beat anybody of note at the moment, in hurling or football. We have to breed ambition, change the culture and get our players to where they should be.

From 13, 14, they should be aiming at the top and measured against the top instead of hoping for the best, I think there was a bit of that going on. We have to set the standards higher.”

Duignan was later questioned on whether this chairman role is a long-term project.

“I’m not coming in for a very short term or anything like that, I am committed to the project,” he said.

“There’ll be a fair focus on us to see what we’re doing, and in 12 months time we’ll be judged [at the 2020 county convention]. I think the honeymoon period will be brief enough, people will be expecting to see action.

There’s been a lot of talking done, we have to back it up now on the ground. I’ll certainly be back here next year, looking to be re-elected. It will take a number of years to put all our plans in place.”

You can listen to the full interview here:

Source: Midlands Sport/SoundCloud

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Emma Duffy

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