Tuesday 25 June 2019

Kevin Martin axed as Faithful turn to Joachim Kelly to arrest slide

 

Kevin Martin has been relieved of his duties as Offaly manager Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Kevin Martin has been relieved of his duties as Offaly manager Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Offaly chiefs have taken radical action to halt their sensational hurling decline with Kevin Martin relieved of his duties as senior boss and Faithful legend Joachim Kelly taking the role on an interim basis.

Martin informed the Faithful squad of his departure yesterday afternoon after a series of disastrous results has left them fighting for their lives with relegation to the Christy Ring Cup looming after demoralising defeats to Laois and Westmeath.

Their humbling 13-point defeat at the hands of the Lake men in last Saturday's Joe McDonagh Cup clash was the tipping point and Kelly - who guided Coolderry to Offaly SHC success last year - takes charge for their remaining games against Antrim (home) and Kerry (away).

A statement from the Offaly county board said that "survival in the Joe McDonagh Cup competition in 2019 is essential for the long-term development of hurling in the county" as Offaly look to arrest their fall from grace.

Martin's two-year reign started in sensational style when they comprehensively defeated Dublin in the opening round of last year's Division 1B league tie in Croke Park but things quickly went downhill.

Offaly were subsequently relegated from the Liam MacCarthy Cup after four heavy Leinster SHC defeats, with things going from bad to worse this year as a last-gasp loss to Carlow saw them slip to the league's third tier.

Meanwhile, Kilkenny boss Brian Cody looks set to be handed a major boost for the remainder of the season with last year's captain Cillian Buckley making his first competitive appearance in nearly a year.

Buckley hasn't featured for the Cats since last year's All-Ireland quarter-final defeat having sat out this year's league campaign due to a crippling knee injury, but he starts for Dicksboro tonight in the Kilkenny SHC.

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If Buckley comes through unscathed, he is likely to play a leading role in their Leinster SHC bid.

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