Donal Óg Cusack held little back in his analysis of Offaly following their relegation to Division 2A of the Allianz Hurling League on Sunday.

"Every game for Offaly seems to carry the 'make or break' headline," the Cork man said on League Sunday. "A lot of it is based on them being a 'traditional county'. But what is the tradition of Offaly? 

"Outside of the two decades of the 1980s and 90s, Offaly have only one Leinster Under-21 title. They've achieved zero in every other decade.

"It gives me no pleasure - I always associate Offaly with great hurling and that lovely, unique style - but I could be argued that Offaly have gone back to their mean and what has been their tradition over the last hundred years. "

Former Faithful star Michael Duignan thinks that that is simplistic analysis, however, and says the same charge could be levelled at most hurling counties.

"Who is a traditional county outside Kilkenny?" Duignan said on 2fm's Game On. "Even Cork in recent years are struggling to win All-Irelands. Outside of the top three, you could put a (similar) chart for a lot of counties.

"Donal Óg put up a chart last night. You could apply that chart to an awful lot of counties. Waterford haven't won an All-Ireland since 1959, Wexford won an All-Ireland in 1996 but hadn't won before that since '68.

"Limerick won last year, they hadn't won since '73, Clare won three in the last 100 years, 2013, '97, '95,  Dublin haven't won since '38, Galway '87, '88 and then in 2017.

"Statistics can tell you anything you want them to tell you, as we know."

Duignan believes that regardless of whether they are challenging for All-Irelands or not, Offaly are punching below their weight, having also been relegated from the Leinster Championship to the Joe McDonagh Cup for this season.

"We did come across some exceptional players, two particular groups," he said of their wins in 1981, '84, '94 and '98, of which he was involved in the latter pair.

"I don't think it's quite as simple as that.  Most counties haven't won that much, they might have won at underage or whatnot. Whether we're winning All-Irelands or not, we should be an awful lot more competitive. 

"Even in the decades that Donal Óg showed the zeroes in, Offaly didn't lose to Laois or Westmeath or Carlow in that period. 

"Whether we're ever going to get back to the very top of the tree - and it's an awful long way back from where we are now - there's no reason we shouldn't be an awful lot better.

"The basic skills have abandoned us and weren't in evidence at all. And what Offaly were famous for was skillful hurling and first-time hurling."

Speaking to Marty Morrissey for RTÉ One's Six One News, Duignan said that the focus needed to be on youth, including raising the current number of full-time coaches from three to eight so that each secondary school in the county could have their own coach.

"Create a culture at 14 or 15, a winning culture," he said.

"Get the strength and conditioning right, get the fitness right, and get our basic skills back."

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