Thursday 24 October 2019

'Westmeath and Laois have better players than us now' - Michael Duignan calls for 'Offaly pride' to avoid drop to third tier

Former Offaly star Michael Duignan . Photo: Sportsfile
Former Offaly star Michael Duignan . Photo: Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Offaly legend Michael Duignan believes Kevin Martin was 'treated badly' after he stepped down as Offaly hurling manager and was replaced by Joachim Kelly.

The Faithful are uncomfortaly close to slipping down to third tier of the hurling championship after a heavy defeat to Westmeath on Saturday.

Offaly have also been relegated to Division Two in the league.

After losses to Westmeath and Laois, Offaly now have two games remaining in the Joe McDonagh Cup to avoid demotion to the Christy Ring Cup.

A victory over Antrim in their next game will be a necessity for interim boss Kelly.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE this morning, two-time All-Ireland winer Duignan criticised the handling of the crisis in Offaly hurling and called on the players to row in behind Kelly.

"This is going on for years and years now, To me, it's another short-term, reactionary move," he said.

"We have to have an acceptance in Offaly that Westmeath, Laois and Carlow have better players than us now. They've moved ahead of us, they are beating us at senior and minor level for quite a number of years.

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"Why is that? I think our county board, our clubs, our coaching staff and our players have to take responsibility along with Kevin. Of course some of it rests at his feet but three years ago, Westmeath beat us by 14 points in the Championship. What has been done differently between now and then? Very little. Put in another manager and expect different results.

"I know these people, in many cases decent, well-meaning people, but we're not grasping it. Until we devise a plan and implement it, we're not going to improve, the people in power need to listen to people who are willing to help.

"I feel very sorry for Kevin Martin this morning. One of the greatest Offaly players, a great teammate who always prepared diligently and he took responsibility for his own performances and he wasn't looking for scapegoats and he has been treated badly in this instance.

"He has teenage sons, he has a family and the ills of Offaly hurling have been placed at his feet this morning. I don't think it's fair.

"Joachim Kelly worked miracles with Coolderry last year, got them to a Leinster club final and he has 10 days to try and save Offaly from dropping another tier, which would be a disaster.

"He has great charisma, he has great passion for the game and I would urge the players to show some Offaly pride.

"Every player needs to get behind Joachim Kelly for the future of Offaly hurling, we have some good young players in the county but we can't slip any further.

"When this season is over the county board need to stand back and have a deep, long look at themselves and what's going on."

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