John Maughan enjoying Offaly journey
By Cian O'Connell
Almost three decades spent minding teams at various levels of the game, John Maughan still finds joy in the journey.
Offaly face a daunting Leinster Championship trip to Pairc Tailteann on Sunday against an improving Meath outfit, but Maughan is relishing the challenge.
Retaining Allianz Football League Division Three status brought a degree of satisfaction and now Maughan is targeting a summer run.
"If we got three games in the Championship, possibly four, that would be great, whether that's front door, back door," Maughan says about Offaly's aspirations for the remainder of 2019. "We'll be chasing a victory in the Championship hard, if you were lucky enough to get a favourable draw through the back door that you would get a team you could beat.
"It's about building blocks, learning. There are a lot of young footballers around, those U-20s are playing quite well and there is a future."
Does Maughan hope to play a central part in the development? "It's a very fickle business, you have no idea when things might turn," Maughan replies.
"I have had experience of it turning before. Everything can be rosy in the garden one week, a couple of weeks later, the knives are out. I'm fully aware of that. I have experienced both sides of it.
"You are carried shoulder high one day, the next thing 'get him out, he's no good.' That's the nature of the business we are in. I'm in it because I love it enjoy it. I didn't think I would enjoy Offaly as much as I am now.
"They're a great bunch. When you come into a county outside of your own, getting to know lads, it's always interesting, even outside of football, what do they do, learning about guys, understanding their personalities, I enjoy that."
Maughan believes it was critical to stay in Division Three for Offaly. "They would have questioned Maughan for a start and said what's he doing up here," Maughan remarks about avoiding relegation.
"It would have knocked the stuffing out of the lads. It just would. I'm not being disrespectful to the teams in Division Four but for Offaly, if they were going to move on and have sunnier times, they need to be playing a different standard of football.
"Look at the quality in Division Three next year, Cork, Tipperary, Derry, Down, Leitrim coming with a run out of Division Four. Playing against them is going to bring on Offaly football so that's a bonus for Division Three."
The former Clare, Mayo, and Roscommon boss acknowledges pressure would have been felt if Offaly dropped down.
"Personally? No question," Maughan states. "That would be a backward step, my drive up and down from Castlebar is long enough without having relegation to deal with in my own head. That would certainly have hurt me.
"Two of my four kids and my wife came to a lot of the games with me and the disappointment in the car on the way home when we had lost, even on their faces because when you are involved in football you take it so seriously, it dominated my life now. the same with players, irrespective of what division you're in.
"It's a lifestyle choice and me getting involved in it, it dominates my life right now. It's no-stop. Every football manager wants fun. We all have egos. some have bigger than others but at the same time you want to enjoy the damn thing.
"Nobody is in it to have miserable Sundays losing games, that's a miserable place to be for any manager whether its' hurling or football."
The Allianz Football League has assumed greater importance in recent times according to Maughan. "A seismic shift in the last number of years," Maughan comments.
"It's crying out for a two-tier system. I've been involved in All-Ireland B championship wins with two counties, Clare and Fermanagh, and I recall Clare in particular the confidence and the fun.
"I remember it being celebrated, the first adult competition that Clare had won in decades. I think it was Longford we beat in Ballinasloe. It propelled Clare football at the time. Right now a two-tier competition has to be introduced and whatever format that is.
"With regard to the Leinster Championship everyone knows Dublin are going to win it, albeit Meath are closing the gap, up to Division One.
"I was looking at Meath football and asking for the last few years 'what's wrong here' but watching them in that Division Two final this year and the results they've got against Kildare and other teams they are back with a bang.
"You would expect that Dublin will, not only win the Leinster Championship, but also the All-Ireland. That's my opinion.
"Having Carlow, Wexford and Offaly competing at that level, it's a no brainer. You've got to address some issue there."