OFFALY SEALED A return to Division 2 of the Allianz Football League after a five-point win over Fermanagh in the semi-final.
Offaly’s victory means the Division 3 final won’t be played as they’re in Leinster action against Louth in two weeks. They’ll share the title with Derry, who defeated Limerick by four points earlier in the day.
It’s the first time Offaly find themselves in the top 16 of the league since they were relegated from Division 1A in 2006.
In his third year in charge, John Maughan’s team are playing some excellent football but they’ll be disappointed with the second-half performance where they allowed 14-man Fermanagh to within two points by the 66th minute.
The Ernesiders were poor in the opening half and had just 0-4 on the board by the interval before they turned things around in the second period.
Sean Quigley led the charge with seven points and Ciaran Corrigan had plenty of bright moments, but Offaly substitute Niall McNamee turned over a Fermanagh defender to set-up Mark Abbott for the game’s only goal in the 70th minute.
It was the key score of the game and put the tie to bed, when Fermanagh were well on top.
A minute later Abbott almost set-up a second goal when he passed across the square to Bill Carroll, whose palmed finish hit the post.
It continues the positive air around Offaly GAA with the hurling side already having sealed promotion to Division 1, in addition to the structures put in place by chairman Michael Duignan and Shane Lowry’s recent partnership with the county.
In the first game for both counties with a crowd permitted, 200 spectators made a major difference to the atmosphere at Bord na Mona O’Connor Park.
A view of fans watching the game.
Source: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO
Fermanagh set-up with a sweeper in the opening-half, but Offaly had no trouble cutting through the rearguard.
Anton Sullivan kicked a pair of excellent scores and Cian Farrell landed one on the outside of the boot to give the Faithful a 0-5 to 0-2 lead by the first water break.
Farrell had Johny Cassidy under pressure, twice intercepting a ball from the full-back to kick scores in the opening period. He also put over two marks after good kick passes inside.
Fermanagh scored just once from play before the break and things got worse after Eoin Donnelly was dismissed for a second yellow in stoppage time. He was punished for sloppy hits on Carl Stewart and Eoin Carroll, and McMenamin’s side had 14 men for the entire second-half.
Peter Cunningham almost extended the home lead when he junked through and hit the post, but Offaly’s six point half-time lead looked formidable.
Carroll picked up a yellow card after catching Fermanagh players with a high hand on two occasions and was replaced at the interval as a precaution.
The home side moved seven clear by the 52nd second minute, but Fermanagh reeled off three in succession to move back to within three by the 60th minute after three scores from Sean Quigley (two frees) and a booming point from Danny Leonard.
Quigley added another from a free in the 66th minute to reduce the gap to two. Fermanagh had all the momentum but veteran Niall McNamee intercepted Sean Cassidy when he came out with the ball.
The Rhode man hand passed to Mark Abbott and he dispatched the ball into the net to stretch Offaly’s lead to five. Bill Carroll went close to another goal in stoppage-time as Offaly ran out deserved winners.
Scorers for Offaly: Cian Farrell 0-6 (0-3f, 0-2m), Mark Abbott 1-0, Anton Sullivan 0-3, Paddy Dunican (0-1 45), Shane Horan, Niall Darby, Peter Cunningham and Ruairi McNamee 0-1 each.
Scorers for Fermanagh: Sean Quigley 0-7 (0-5f), Daragh McGurn 0-2, Danny Leonard, Ciaran Corrigan and Declan McCusker 0-1 each.
1. Paddy Dunican (Shamrocks)
3. Eoin Rigney (Rhode), 17. James Lalor (Raheen), 4. Niall Darby (Rhode)
5. Colm Doyle (Clara), 6. Carl Stewart (Clara), 7. Jordan Hayes (Edenderry)
9. Eoin Carroll (Cappincur), 8. Peter Cunningham (Bracknagh)
10. Shane Horan (Kilmacud Crokes), 2. David Dempsey (Ballycommon), 12. Anton Sullivan (Rhode)
13. Bernard Allen (Tubber), 14. Cian Farrell (Edenderry), 15. Ruairi McNamee (Rhode)
8. Cathal Mangan (Kilclonfert) for Carroll (ht)
25. Niall McNamee (Rhode) for Allen (44)
20. Cian Donohoe (St Brigid’s) for Hayes (48)
23. Joe Maher (Ferbane) for Ruairi McNamee (57)
24. Bill Carroll (Cappincur) for Horan (57)
21. Mark Abbott (Edenderry) for Sullivan (68)
26. Aaron Leavy (Tullamore) for Cunningham (68)
16. Sean McNally (Tigh Mor)
2. Kane Connor (Beal na Leice), 4. Luke Flanagan (Doire Loinn), Johnny Cassidy (Inis Ceithleann)
of the team
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6. James McMahon (Ros Liath)
5. Kevin McDonnell (Na Cearna), 8. Danny Leonard (Doire Loinn), Aidan Breen (An Tiompiu)
19. Eoin Donnelly (An Cuach), 9. Stephen Gleeson (Doire Ó gConaile)
12. Josh Largo Ellis (Na Cearna), Tiarnan Bogue (An Tiompiu), 10. Ciaran Corrigan (Droichead Mhig Uidhir)
14. Daragh McGurn (Beal na Leice), 15. Sean Quigley (Ros Liath)
20. Ultan Kelm (Gaeil na h-Eirne) for Leonard (ht)
13. Declan McCusker (Eadarnaigh Naomh Seosamh) for Connor (ht)
21. Richard O’Callaghan (Inis Ceaithleann) for Bogue (44)
17. Tiarnan Daly (Doire O gConaile) for Breen (45)
18. Cain McManus (Tigh Mor) for McDonnell (65)
22. Mark McCauley (Eadarnaigh Naomh Seosamh) for McGurn (68)
23. Sean Cassidy (Eadarnaigh) for Flanagan (69)
24. Finbar Gillen (Naomh Seaosamh) for James McMahon (74)
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Longford)
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