By Micil Glennon
Offaly boss Emmet McDonnell says he is delighted with the response of his new team in the wake of the criticism of the Faithful county in recent seasons.
McDonnell, who led St Mary’s, Edenderry to All-Ireland schools success last year, took over the Offaly hotseat after an extremely disappointing 2012, which saw the team relegated to division four of the league and suffer Championship defeats to Kildare and Tipperary.
Speaking after their O’Byrne Cup win over Laois in Tullamore, McDonnell told RTÉ Sport: "The players have been heavily criticised over the last couple of seasons for maybe lacking a little bit of desire to play for their county.
"Certainly these players don't lack any desire and they showed that out there today.
"Our target today was to be competitive. We spoke about that all week, that we wanted to be competitive."
Offaly had already beaten Louth and Meath to claim the pre-season Fitzsimons Cup and the young manager was full of praise for the effort of his panel.
"The players have been fantastic," McDonnell said. "They have been absolutely great. Anything we have asked of the players they have given, and given more.
"They have been absolutely super, we're just trying to give them a road map where they can try to improve in a few small areas and they have responded so far."
Offaly play Athlone IT on Wednesday night in Gracefield, throw-in 7.30pm.