Kehoe Cup Hurling Final: Offaly 1-16, Antrim 1-15
Offaly hurlers maintained their early-season momentum under Michael Fennelly with a dramatic victory over Antrim in the Kehoe Cup final at Pairc Tailteann.
In their final competitive outing before their first league game at home to Meath, Offaly sneaked the win with a point from Oisin Kelly in the fourth minute of injury-time.
It had looked like a Brian Duignan goal had wrapped up the win for the Faithful County, only for Antrim to equalise with a last-gasp goal by Danny McCloskey. A penalty-shoot out was on the cards before the big Belmont man came up trumps.
Offaly led throughout a physically demanding first half, though some inaccurate shooting meant their half time tally was restricted to nine points, which was sufficient to give them a narrow advantage (0-9 to 0-7) at the break.
Liam Langton was on target with a free and a ‘65’ early on while Oisin Kelly then hit over Offaly’s first from play. Another Langton free left it 0-4 to 0-0. But Antrim then registered three in a row, with Keelan Molloy and Neil McManus playing influential roles. Leon Fox, Peter Geraghty, Sean Cleary and Shane Kinsella all contributed to Offaly’s total before the break as they deservedly led by two points.
Soon after the resumption, Sean Cleary, Leon Fox and Liam Langton (free) were on target for Offaly, but Antrim stayed in touch thanks to Neil McManus.
The wides tally continued to mount for Offaly, and was up to 14 by the 15th minute of the second period. Nevertheless, at the three-quarter stage, substitute David Nally floated over a long range free to leave the scoreboard reading 0-14 to 0-11.
But Antrim didn’t lose heart and kept in touch as time wore on. David Nally and Neil McManus (free) traded scores and Offaly were still only two ahead entering the closing ten minutes.
Eventually, the big breakthrough came for Offaly. Immediately after his introduction, Brian Duignan caught a long delivery and although the initial effort was blocked, he was on hand to fire home the game’s only goal.
Offaly maintained a three point advantage into injury time, before Antrim struck for their goal. But it was all OK for Offaly when Kelly fired over the winner.
Offaly Scorers: Liam Langton 0-4, Brian Duignan 1-0; Leon Fox; Peter Geraghty; Sean Cleary; Shane Kinsella; David Nally; Oisin Kelly 0-2 each.
OFFALY: James Dempsey; Brian Watkins, Damien Egan, Paddy Rigney; Michael Cleary, Ben Conneely, Dan Doughan; Brendan Murphy, Leon Fox; Shane Kinsella, Peter Geraghty, Oisin Kelly; Liam Langton, Sean Cleary, Thomas Geraghty.
Subs Used: David King; David Nally; Paul Kinsella; Brian Duignan; Kevin Dunne; Jason Sampson; Ross Ravenhill.