At the Offaly County Board meeting on Tuesday 12th March, Offaly hurling legend Damien Martin made an impassioned plea to the followers of Offaly Hurling to get behind their team. Recounting the good and not so good days of his playing career, Martin noted that “It is easy to be a supporter when your team is winning. When results are not going your way, this is the time that the players need the supporters most”.
Martin, a member of the Offaly team that made the historic breakthrough in Leinster in ‘80 and the All Ireland in ’81 observed that even though this is a difficult place to be, Offaly has been here before. However, there is one major difference between his generation and the current group of players. There is a weight of expectation on the players of today that his generation was not burdened with. Before the breakthrough in the 80s and 90s, Offaly supporters did not expect Offaly to be in the running for major honours and so players did not feel the pressure of expectation that the players of today experience.
Martin, who was the first ever Hurling All Star, gave an insight into the importance of having the county get behind the team. He recounted how there were always plenty of people to pat players on the back when Offaly won and some were not slow to let him know him whenever a soft goal went in. “Players don’t need to be told when they have had a bad day. The player knows it and feels it more than anyone”. The Offaly players are hurting at the moment, but they are working as hard as those in any other county.
The players may be the fortunate ones to have the talent to wear an Offaly jersey but everyone can wear the jersey by giving them support. Encouraging people to get behind Offaly, Martin observed that these are the days when the Offaly team needs them most.