Michael Fennelly fears Offaly or Carlow will ‘go up two or three notches’ next year

Michael Fennelly has warned of the huge leap ahead for the winners of tomorrow’s Joe McDonagh Cup final next year.

Whoever emerges victorious from the second-tier decider between Offaly and Carlow at Croke Park will rejoin the Leinster Championship in 2024, with Offaly already guaranteed a place in the Allianz Hurling League top flight after winning the Division 2A title this year. .

Offaly won that title under Fennelly two years ago, but endured a difficult season in Division One last year, losing all six games, most of them heavily, as they were relegated and struggled for much of the following campaign. Joe McDonagh Cup.

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“Those games are tough,” Fennelly said of Offaly’s exposure to the game’s elite. “We romanticized and flirted with going up to Division One and we did that last year and you’re playing Limerick, Cork, Clare, these teams, and you’re getting hammered and people are like, ‘Oh sure, it’s good to be. get games against these teams and it is not.

“You can’t be going up two or three levels, that’s how I see it. If you’re going to go up another level, great, you’re playing against a team that you can compete with for 50 minutes, 60 minutes, whatever, there’s a chance you can beat them, but if you go up two or three levels, that’s very difficult.”

Fennelly cited the difficulties Westmeath and Antrim have endured in the Leinster Championship this year. The former Offaly boss feels that while those counties can be competitive against places like Dublin and Wexford, as illustrated by Westmeath’s sensational win at Wexford Park last Sunday, the gap to the two strongest teams in the competition, Kilkenny and Galway, it’s too big to save. .

Antrim lost to Kilkenny by 17 points and Galway by 22, while Westmeath lost to them by 22 and 34 points respectively.