The bit in bold is indisputable. Offaly may not have the type of talent that exists in the Liam MacCarthy counties at the moment, but I cannot accept that anything lower than Joe McDonagh is our natural level, based on the quality of hurling that exists in the county. I know this is an oversimplification, but look at the way Seir Kieran easily disposed of Kildalkey in Navan - and that was Meath's senior champions. Admittedly Kildalkey won't provide too many players to the Meath team in the Summer, probably no more than three starters, but it's not unreasonable to say that there are at least eight and probably closer ten clubs in Offaly that would be the strongest team in the Meath SHC. Yet they're Joe McDonagh next year, and we're not.llkj wrote: ↑Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:52 pmI genuinely don't know the answer as to what is the best approach. Based on how last year went, maybe the decision that was taken was seen as the most logical.
The obvious goal this year is to get back to Joe Mc Donagh for next year. That is seen as vital. Would it be the end of the world if we didn't get out of 2a? It would definitely mean that our preparation for 2021 would mean a league campaign competing against teams of equal or less standard. However, that might be better than going back to D1 again and getting heavy beatings in prep for next year's Championship.
There's no injustice in that, Offaly had chances to save themselves and didn't take them, but after years of people in the county not realising how much we were falling off the pace, we've now overshot and fallen to a level that is beneath where we are. I watch a reasonable amount of Christy Ring Cup hurling games, covering Roscommon and other counties, and at the risk of being seen as overconfident, I'll say it like it is - Rynaghs, or Birr, or K-K, or Belmont, by themselves, would reach a Christy Ring final at least if they were in form.
The reason I say that is because I genuinely believe that while the Christy Ring Cup is the "must win", Offaly can afford to try to be close to fully right for the Spring, there is no need to keep anything massive in reserve or anything like that. Those games against Antrim and Kerry, and hopefully a Division 2A final which would be against one or other of those as well, are the toughest games we'll play all year. We should be capable of winning, winning well, and getting back up to Division 1. And if we can do enough to win 2A, we'll walk the Ring Cup - it's that simple.
And personally, I think that league promotion is essential - because for all the praise that there is for the tiered hurling, I firmly believe it has cemented the standards in every county - good and bad. It has made it all the more difficult to really climb the ladder, because the good teams are powering ahead playing each other, and the rest are being left behind. (It's no coincidence that the same happened in football, since they changed from 1A/1B/2A/2B to 1/2/3/4 the top teams have driven on ahead too)
We need to be in Division 1, and even the likes of Westmeath this year, who will lose all five round robin games, are far better off than we are (or Antrim, or Kerry). If Offaly are ever to get back to a stage where we can be a match for Waterford, Wexford, Clare, Limerick etc., getting back to the top table in the league has to happen.