Offaly step it up with new training approach

Offaly captain David King has praised manager Kevin Martin for asking more of the players in training.

Former county defender Martin also returned the group to a more traditional style after Kevin Ryan’s one season in charge in 2017 where he deployed double sweepers in some games.

Martin has spoken of the need to allow the players to express themselves and while King won’t criticise former managers he admits that a couple of their good league displays against Dublin and Kilkenny this year were due to increased self-belief in the squad.

“As a player, Kevin was fairly hard-working and honest. He’s demanded a lot from us as players and he’s asked a lot of questions of us in training. 

"We’ve gained confidence from that and the training has been upped and a couple of performances have come from that. You could call it unshackling, I suppose.”

Regarding Ryan’s time as manager, King shrugs: “I don’t know how much DNA is left in modern hurling. I’m not going to slate ex-managers’ tactics but the one thing that Kevin has brought is asking a lot more of us in training.”

The 25-year-old midfielder believes Offaly were a united group before Martin’s arrival but knows his rallying call has been a convincing one for some who had not been on the panel. 

Everyone wants to play for their county; it’s just a huge honour even to be asked in. But for whatever reasons other lads haven’t been able to commit in other years through injury or family matters or what have you.

"Kevin has probably approached everyone and told them what he expects for the year and that was a help in getting lads back.”

King would tend to agree that it’s unfair relegation from Leinster is a clearer danger than in Munster but there’s no point in complaining now so soon before Offaly open their campaign against Galway on Saturday. 

“There’s not much we can do about the structure; it’s not in any of our hands. It’s whatever the GAA decide. We just have to adapt and go out and play hurling.”

There isn’t a hope Offaly will read anything into Galway’s mediocre league form, insists King.

 “They’re still All-Ireland champions and they’re still going to be there or thereabouts. 

"So, we’ll be looking for a serious performance and keeping the work-rate up.”

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