MICHAEL DUIGNAN HAS questioned the Offaly county board’s decision to remove hurling manager Kevin Martin from his role just two games into the Joe McDonagh Cup campaign. 

The Faithful, who dropped out of the Leinster SHC last season, lost to Laois by four points on the opening day and suffered a 14-point defeat to Westmeath on Saturday night.

The county board met last night and announced that two-time All-Star Martin and his management team would be departing, with Joachim Kelly coming in as interim boss. 

“To me, it’s another short-term, reactionary move,” Duignan told RTE Radio 1 this morning.

“We have to have an acceptance here in Offaly that Westmeath, Laois and Carlow – counties like this – have better players than us now. They’ve moved ahead of us. They’ve been beating us at minor and senior for a number of years now. 

“And why is that? I think the county board, our clubs, our coaching staff and our players have to take responsibility. Along with Kevin. He’s been manager and of course, some of it rests at his feet.”

Duignan, who won two All-Ireland titles alongside Martin in the 1990s, said the decision to dispense with the Tullamore native didn’t take into account Offaly’s current standing in the game. 

“Three years ago, Westmeath beat us by 14 points. What has been done differently between then and now? Very little. Put in a different manager and expect different results. 

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“I know these people. In many cases, they’re decent, well-meaning people. But we’re not grasping it. Until we devise a plan that suits our demographics then we’re not going to improve. The people in power need to listen to the people who are willing to do that.

“I feel personally very sorry for Kevin Martin. One of the greatest Offaly players. A great teammate, a great friend. When he played for Offaly, he prepared diligently, he took responsibility for his performances and he didn’t look for scapegoats. And he has been treated badly in this instance.”

Joachim Kelly celebrates after winning the Offaly county title last October.

Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Kelly, who managed Wexford in 2000, won two All-Irelands as a player with Offaly and led Coolderry to the Leinster club final last November.

“He has 10 days trying to save Offaly hurling from dropping another tier which would be disastrous,” said Duignan

“He’s great charisma, he’s great passion for the game. We keep going back 20 years looking for this Offaly pride but we have to do something. Every player – and we have some good young players – has to get behind Joachim Kelly for the future of Offaly hurling.  

“When this season is over, the county board need to take a strong, hard look at themselves.”

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