Offaly hurling is rarely not at a crossroads these days and it reaches another major junction on Saturday afternoon in Mullingar.

Last summer ended with relegation out of the top tier Liam MacCarthy Cup and into the Joe McDonagh. They lost their first game in that competition to Laois last weekend so they are faced with a stark reality.

Lose to Westmeath at TEG Cusack Park this weekend and their hopes of immediate promotion will be gone. Worse, the prospect of a slide further down into the Christy Ring Cup becomes a possibility.

It’s 25 years since the Faithful County won the 1994 All-Ireland in dramatic fashion, scoring 2-05 late on in a smash-and-grab against Limerick at Croke Park.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Offaly won another All-Ireland in 1998, though their long, slow slide away from hurling’s top table has had an irreversible momentum.

Johnny Dooley of Offaly in the 1994 All-Ireland final win over Limerick

Limerick's goalkeeper on that fateful day quarter of a century ago was Joe Quaid, who also just so happens to be Westmeath manager – the man plotting the Faithful’s demise on Saturday.

"People still remind me of that match and I have all the grey hairs to show for it!" he laughed good-naturedly when asked about it by RTÉ Sport.

"It’s ironic that 25 years later instead of parading around Croke Park on the jubilee team I get to take on Offaly as a manager!"

Offaly’s greats from 1994, a team that included the likes of Brian Whelahan, Michael Duignan, Joe Dooley and Johnny Pilkington, will get to parade around GAA Headquarters on All-Ireland final day as their achievements are honoured.

The thoughts of the county winning another All-Ireland title any time soon seem fanciful, however.

They lost out in the Division 1B relegation play-off to Carlow in the Allianz League, meaning that they’ll be playing in the second division in 2020. They are replaced in the top flight by the Division 2A champions – Saturday’s opponents Westmeath.

Westmeath manager Joe Quaid

Living life away from the spotlight is hurting Offaly hurling, but the only way they can get back there is by winning matches.

Quaid said: "This is my first year. Michael Ryan and the managements that went previous to me all did a lot of great work; I didn’t just come in and wave a magic wand.

"A lot of it is about getting lads to believe in themselves, believe that they are as good a hurlers in Westmeath as they are in other counties. It was great that the lads were able to get it over the line for themselves in the League and it’s massive to have that to look forward to next year.

"We’ve parked it for now to concentrate on the Joe McDonagh, but to have tier-one hurling to look forward to next year is a huge motivation."

Quaid is around long enough to know not to underestimate Offaly, saying "word of their demise is over-exaggerated."

But a win on Saturday would be a further signal of two hurling counties heading in opposite directions.

The five Joe McDonagh teams are Westmeath, Laois, Offaly, Antrim and Kerry. Westmeath had last weekend off so make their first appearance in this second round of games. Antrim beat Kerry in the first round and they take on the other unbeaten team, Laois, on Saturday.

Follow all the hurling action this weekend via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, listen to live national commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and watch live and exclusive TV coverage of the Munster SHC on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player this Sunday