Replacing Martin as Offaly manager 'another short-term, reactionary move', says Duignan

Replacing Martin as Offaly manager 'another short-term, reactionary move', says Duignan
Kevin Martin

Michael Duignan has criticised the Offaly County Board for replacing hurling manager Kevin Martin.

A disastrous start to their Joe McDonagh Cup campaign has left Offaly in a battle to avoid relegation to hurling's third tier.

A 13-point loss to Westmeath was the final straw for Offaly GAA's Management Committee, who removed Martin from his role and installing Joachim Kelly as an interim successor.

"To me, it's another short-term, reactionary move," Duignan told RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland.

"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 senior and minor 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.

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

"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. 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. I don't think it's fair because there's a lot of other things wrong in Offaly."

Kelly is the fourth man in 10 years to step in as interim manager to an Offaly senior team mid-season.

Joachim Kelly
Joachim Kelly

Duignan says the players need to unite behind Kelly, who has previously managed the Wexford hurlers, the Offaly camogie team, and most recently, 2018 Offaly champions Coolderry.

"Joachim Kelly, one of Offaly's greatest, played 171 league and championship matches for Offaly. He's in his 60s now, he worked miracles with Coolderry last year, getting them to a Leinster club final.

He has 10 days to try to save Offaly hurling from dropping another tier, which would be disastrous.

"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 has to get behind Joachim Kelly for the future of Offaly hurling. We have some good young players but we can't slip any further.

"When this season is over, the County Board need to take a big, strong hard look at themselves."

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