Faithful war of words rages on
FORMER Offaly dual ace and current RTé pundit, Michael Duignan, has stood over his controversial comments regarding the Faithful County's senior footballers which have drawn the ire of fooball manager Tom Cribbin.
In a strange twist to the Offaly hurling crisis, Cribbin has slammed Duignan for depicting his Offaly football squad as an undisciplined band of drinkers with no pride in the jersey.
"He is completely out of order there," the Offaly football manager countered when told of Duignan's stinging remarks, insisting that the majority of his squad were very hard-working and committed.
"I'll be honest, I have had issues with a couple of players -- but only a couple of players," Cribbin stressed. "It's very easy to start throwing tar because we haven't won a match ... it's very, very unfair of the likes of Michael Duignan to tar everyone with the same brush."
Duignan is a former All-Ireland winning Offaly hurler who also played football for his county. His comments were made on RTé Radio's Sport At 7 on Tuesday night, during a discussion on this week's explosive developments that have seen the Offaly hurlers claim they were denied access to O'Connor Park for training last Saturday.
Defending Joe Dooley's panel of young hurlers, Duignan continued: "I couldn't compare them to the footballers because there's discipline issues with the footballers in this county.
"They don't want to train, they have no pride in their jersey, they're going on the beer and all that sort of thing," he alleged.
Contacted by the Evening Herald, Duignan stood over the basic tenor of his remarks although he apologised to "genuine footballers" such as Ciarán McManus and Karol Slattery, for whom he has the utmost time.
"I was fairly animated when I was doing the interview and, to be fair, I didn't mean all the footballers. But there are a number of footballers who aren't treating the jersey with the respect it deserves," he reiterated.
He alleged that, on the night they lost heavily to Wexford, and again the following night, "quite a number of the team" had been "partying openly around the town" of Tullamore. "To me that is not acceptable behaviour and, if Tom thinks it is, the best of luck to him," Duignan concluded.
The 14-point margin against Wexford was Offaly's heaviest Leinster SFC defeat since 1947. "We did collapse in the last ten minutes," Cribbin conceded, "but we had created four or five serious goal chances that none of them came to us, and we lost a very good young player (Anton Sullivan, to injury) before half-time.
"Offaly definitely have the potential to win a Leinster in the next three years -- without a shadow of a doubt," he maintained.
"They are working hard enough and, yes, there were a couple of lads not acting responsibly ... but there is no point in Michael Duignan or people like that who should know better castagating everybody with the same brush."
Harking back to his February 2009 appointment - following Richie Connor's resignation in the wake of a player heave - Cribbin declared: "People forget that Offaly was in turmoil two-and-a-half years ago in football, and it's not something that you can turn overnight."