We've come a long way since Lake loss - Bergin
Joe Bergin insists the Offaly hurlers have come a long way since their Championship defeat to Westmeath eight weeks ago, and that they are confident of giving a good account of themselves in the Qualifiers where they face Wexford, writes John Fallon.
Eamonn Kelly's side suffered a ten-point defeat to Galway in Sunday's Leinster hurling semi-final, and have now been paired against the Model in the first round of the Qualifiers.
Hurling in the Faithful county appeared to be at a low ebb following their 2-22 to 1-11 round-robin loss to Westmeath on May 1, but since then, a lot of pride has been recovered following a handful of spirited performances.
And Bergin (below), who fired a first-minute goal for 14-man Offaly in their loss to Galway, says that he thinks things are not as bad as everyone is making out. "That day hurt us. We took a lot of flak around that time as well. I suppose it was all justified. Westmeath beat us fairly and squarely on the day," he told Midlands 103.
"But we have turned it around since. We got a result against Carlow and Kerry and we got a result over Laois. Against Galway, we put our shoulder to the wheel. It wasn't enough but we are further on than we were then, six or seven weeks ago. We'll give someone a good game in the Qualifier."
Before that loss to Westmeath, a 6-20 to 0-14 League quarter-final defeat to Kilkenny had revealed how far Offaly have slipped away from the elite, but Bergin still sees bright signs for the game in the county.
On Thursday their U-21 team can reach the Leinster final with victory over Carlow, and Bergin says that will lift everyone again.
"The U-21s have a great chance. It'd be massive. Imagine after been defeated by Galway in the senior semi, to make it into an U-21 Leinster final would be massive," he said.
"And I don't think we are in as bad a place as everyone likes to say we are. If we get a result in Carlow - there is nothing easy about it - the U-21s in a Leinster final would be great, and would give the seniors a bit more confidence.
"I think we did okay against Galway, but ultimately we didn't win the game.
"There was only nine or ten points in it at the end and we have been on the end of worse. It's not much to be clinging to, but from that point of view it wasn't as bad as it could have been."
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