Last May, Daithi Regan was moved to say that Offaly hurling was "on its knees" after being thumped by Westmeath in the Leinster hurling championship. Around the same time Offaly hurling legend Padraig Horan said he would "be fearful of Offaly hurling dropping off the radar altogether".
Offaly hurling people won't be too optimistic about their county's chances in this year's hurling championship after a 26-point thrashing by Galway in Tullamore in Division 1B. And manager Kevin Ryan - who has also managed Carlow and Antrim and served as a Waterford selector under Justin McCarthy - sounded none too positive speaking after the game.
Ryan's interview, played on RTE's Morning Ireland on Monday, cast a fairly dreary light on the state of hurling in the county, implying that there exists a disparity between public expectations in Offaly and the reality of what they can achieve:
It's the problem everywhere with counties - particularly a county like Offaly who twenty years ago were winning All-Irelands - and the expectations: why aren't we doing this, and why aren't we doing that. The reality is totally different with Offaly the last four or five years. The patience is the thing. It's hard, like. It's kind of cart before the horse. You need success to drag people back and get people to really support you and get behind you and put up with the bad days - but you kinda need those people supporting you and getting behind you on the bad days to get success. It's really a Catch 22.
But they (the players) are a good, focussed bunch and we're obviously trying to focus them more and more on (goals) down the road. Any of our aims are two and three years away and that's not good enough for some of the Offaly public, but sure that's where it is.
In the searingly honest interview, Ryan also said that they barely get enough senior players together to have an A team v B team game in training:
You probably would be wanting to see more fellas willing to play. I often said it to the lads themselves: if Waterford looked for fifty to come in in the morning, they'd have fifty and they'd be queuing to come in. And that's because they're starting to smell success. They're starting to see things and competing, where we struggle to get thirty for a game. That's the reality of it. It's like the weaker counties...I see the same in Antrim big-time, (with) what people call the better hurlers. They say it's having time and different other commitments and that (but) they really don't have the same desire as others because they don't see you winning something. Again, it's Catch 22. You're looking for a different bunch to come in and try and win something and get everyone on board.
Offaly take on Laois in O'Moore Park on Saturday. With two Division 2 titles the only trophies the county has won at senior level since their All-Ireland in 1998, it's hard to see where inspiration can come from other than through Ryan and his panel. For the moment, though, things look bleak.