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'They deserve to be relegated' - Cusack on Offaly's drop to hurling's third tier

The Faithful county will play in the Christy Ring Cup next year following defeat to Kerry.

Cusack says that Offaly's struggles in hurling have been ongoing.
Cusack says that Offaly's struggles in hurling have been ongoing.

DONAL ÓG CUSACK says Offaly “deserve to be relegated” to the third tier of the All-Ireland senior hurling championship following their defeat to Kerry on Saturday.

The two-point loss to the Kingdom marked Offaly’s fourth loss in the Joe McDonagh Cup and they must now prepare for the Christy Ring competition in 2020.

Offlay were last All-Ireland champions 21 years ago, but speaking on The Sunday Game, Cusack pointed out that their slump in hurling has been ongoing. He also addressed comments that suggested Offaly’s drop to the third tier was “a sad day for hurling.”

“I did hear a lot of comment that it was ‘a sad day for hurling.’ I think that’s definitely unfair to Kerry” said Cusack.

Oisin Kelly dejected after the game A dejected Oisin Kelly after Offaly's defeat to Kerry. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“If Kerry went down so it’s not a sad day for hurling? I don’t think anybody wants to see hurling teams like Offaly going down through the grades.

But in reality, this isn’t something that happened today or yesterday. They lost their four games so they deserve to be relegated.

Presenter Des Cahill then put it to Cusack that Offaly are considered to be one of the “eight or nine significant hurling counties and now they’re gone.”

Cusack responded by referring to the different sides who have won the All-Ireland in the last number of years before suggesting that “project teams” could be a solution for counties who are struggling to compete.

“I would be all for project teams,” he said.

“I’d be all for the likes of Team Ulster, maybe without Antrim [and] giving proper resources, proper programmes to the likes of Carlow, rewarding them for what they’ve achieved over the last while.

“What I would say definitely, if in 10 years’ time we still only have the same amount of teams playing hurling at the level that they are now that all of us within the GAA have failed hurling.

The last thing I’ll say is there’s a certain amount of belly-aching, the belly-aching brigade because I think we’re all to blame for this. Kerry and Offaly was being streamed yesterday. I’d be surprised if more than 1,000 people were watching it online.

“I’d also be surprised if there were more than 1,000 people at the game.”

Laois hurling boss Eddie Brennan was also on the Sunday Game panel.

He mentioned Carlow’s relegation from the Liam MacCarthy Cup after only one season in the top tier, and discussed what that might mean for the future of structures in hurling.

“Is it going to be an up-down scenario?” said Brennan.

I think the tiered competition is good in merit. Like Donal Óg said you’d hope that we don’t lose any team. I would envisage in four or five years’ time that maybe you’re going to have two groups of six or eight teams playing for your championship.

“That would incorporate Carlow, Laois, Kerry [and] whoever else. I know there’s money being pumped in from Central Council but it doesn’t stop at that, there needs to be more investment. Obviously, it’s the whole structure from top to bottom.”

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