Offaly move to replace Martin with Joachim Kelly

Concerns over the county's ability to stay in the McDonagh Cup prompted decision

 Kevin Martin: his  term as Offaly manager  began  positively with a big win over Dublin in Croke Park at the start of the 2018 hurling league,  but deteriorated from then. Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho

Kevin Martin: his term as Offaly manager began positively with a big win over Dublin in Croke Park at the start of the 2018 hurling league, but deteriorated from then. Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho

 

Offaly have replaced Kevin Martin as the county’s senior hurling manager. The county management committee on Monday night took the decision to appoint former All-Ireland winner Joachim Kelly on an interim basis until the end of the current McDonagh Cup campaign.

To date it has been something of a disaster for Offaly, who have lost their opening matches against Laois and Westmeath. This has effectively ruled out a quick return to the elite MacCarthy Cup, from which the county were relegated a year ago and there will be anxiety that the slide stops now without bringing the county down another tier into the Ring Cup.

Reacting to Saturday’s 3-18 to 0-14 defeat by Westmeath, the county in a statement thanked Martin and his management team who have been in place for two years, but added:  “Survival in the Joe McDonagh Cup competition in 2019 is essential for the long-term development of hurling in the county. To this end Joachim Kelly has been appointed by the management committee as interim manager to the end of this year’s Joe McDonagh Cup competition. We wish Joachim and his team the best of luck in the upcoming games.”

Kelly played on the Offaly teams that won the county’s first All-Irelands in 1981 and 1985 and was awarded All Stars in 1980 and 1984. He also won a Railway Cup medal in 1979, defeating Connacht in the final.

His managerial career has been quite extensive, although his last senior intercounty experience was with Wexford 20 years ago.

Big win

Martin’s term began very positively with a big win over Dublin in Croke Park at the start of the 2018 AHL but deteriorated from then.

Although the county battled in the Leinster championship last summer, they finished the round-robin phase bottom of the table and attention was then focused on trying to win this year’s McDonagh Cup, which carries with it re-entry to the MacCarthy Cup preliminary quarter-finals. That is now not going to happen.

Earlier this year the county slipped from Division 1B of the league to Division 2A having lost a relegation play-off to Carlow, a team they had just beaten in the divisional match and who played most of the playoff with 14 men.

* Croke Park sources indicate that the disorder at Sunday’s Down-Armagh Ulster football quarter-final in Newry is unlikely to be the subject of an investigation, and unless referee Anthony Nolan from Wicklow makes official mention of the incident in his match report, the matter is likely to be deemed closed.

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