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Rigney fears for Offaly future

OFFALY star James Rigney fears that relegation to Division 2 of the National Hurling League will have a devastating effect on the county.

The Faithful County were relegated last Sunday after finishing bottom of Division 1, as Wexford saved their skins with a draw against Tipperary.

They go down despite beating Wexford in what was widely regarded as a straight relegation shoot-out in round five.

And Rigney's frustration was compounded by the fact that he could only look on helplessly from the sidelines after breaking his arm against Cork on the opening day of the season.

The Kinnitty defender (25) hopes to return to club fare in less than a month but has expressed doubts about his participation in the Leinster SHC quarter-final against Dublin at Parnell Park on May 29.

"I'll be back in four weeks for an X-ray and I hope to get the all-clear," Rigney said. "The championship game is against Dublin in six weeks and I'm looking at the second round of the Offaly championship against Shinrone, which is fixed for three weeks from next Sunday.

"It's going to be very tight for Dublin and I don't know if I'm fit enough to hurl a full game. It could be very hard to get fit for that match.

"It's been a very frustrating year. The injury is okay now and there's good movement in it but when I turn my hand out, with my palm up to the sky, I can't fully turn it at the moment."

Rigney admitted that he has been left "gutted" by Offaly's relegation and insisted: "It's time the GAA looked at the format for the hurling league.

"We're licking our wounds but you have to give credit to Wexford. They went to Tipp knowing what they had to do and hats off to them.

"But I would love to see us stay in Division 1. No disrespect to the teams in Division 2 but if Offaly want to improve, and Leinster in general, we need to be in Division 1. Even the Kilkenny boys were sympathetic.

"It's very disheartening training for the whole year, trying to stay up, doing the best you can and then getting a kick in the teeth.

"But we should have beaten Waterford the week after we beat Wexford. We let that game slip. The lads that were playing last Sunday were absolutely gutted. Stephen Wynne was in bits after the game."

Irish Independent