Tailteann Cup Round One
Offaly 0-18 Wicklow 0-10
By Brendan Lawrence at O’Connor Park (from gaa.ie website)
Offaly powered into the Tailteann Cup quarter-finals with a fully deserved eight-point victory over a disappointing Wicklow in O’Connor Park, Tullamore.
A more clinical and adventurous attack coupled with a hard-working and tough defence laid the foundation for this victory, while the key moment may well be the superb save by Offaly goalkeeper Paddy Dunican on the hour mark from the boot of Kevin Quinn that would have dragged Wicklow back to within three points of John Maughan’s men.
The visitors enjoyed a better second half but never really troubled the Offaly goal aside from Quinn’s wicked shot that Dunican somehow got down to save.
Oisin McGraynor had been sent in to give Wicklow some threat under the numerous high balls they dropped in over the course of the second half but the Offaly defence stood firm. At the other end, Niall McNamee, Keith O’Neill, Mark Abbott and Morgan Tynan kept the scoreboard ticking over with some sweet scores and, in truth, the Faithful men looked a much sharper outfit.
Wicklow had promised plenty in the opening stages of this game, Kevin Quinn firing over after making a fine mark in the opening minute but dropping short to Paddy Dunican two minutes later.
Ruairí McNamee and Jack Bryant contributed important scores for Offaly, who settled impressively. A wasteful period followed with five wides between the teams, three for Wicklow, two for the home side, before the impressive Anton Sullivan swung over after Wicklow had been turned over in the middle third to make it 0-3 to 0-1 with 15 gone.
Whereas Offaly were punching holes in the Wicklow rearguard and seeking Niall McNamee with long balls, the Garden County were finding it very difficult to find opportunities to pick out Quinn or Eoin D’Arcy and the loss of full-back Patrick O’Keane to a black card after 21 left the visitors on the back foot and Offaly powered on to take a 0-9 to 0-3 half-tie lead with Sullivan, Niall McNamee (four) and Ruairí McNamee pushing Offaly into that healthy advantage.
Wicklow started the second half very brightly with Mark Jackson (free) and Mark Kenny reducing the deficit to four, but they could never get closer than that, and when Quinn’s missile was deflected out for a 45 by Dunican after 60 minutes you got the feeling that that was their best chance was gone.
And so it proved. Ruairí McNamee, class all day long, and Mark Abbott pushed Offaly out to a 0-16 to 0-9 lead, and they were never going to be caught after that despite losing Cian Donohoe to a black card and seven minutes of time being added on at the death.
Onwards they march. They’ll take some stopping.
Scorers for Offaly: Niall McNamee 0-5 (3f, 1m), Anton Sullivan 0-2, Ruairí McNamee 0-3, Keith O’Neill 0-2, Jack Bryant 0-1, Jordan Hayes 0-1, Mark Abbott 0-1, Morgan Tynan 0-1, Niall Darby 0-1, Bill Carroll 0-1.
Scorers for Wicklow: Eoin D’Arcy 0-3 (3f), Mark Jackson 0-3 (3f), Kevin Quinn 0-2 (2m), Mark Kenny 0-2 (1m).
Offaly: Paddy Dunican; Lee Pearson, Declan Hogan, Niall Darby; Rory Egan, Johnny Maloney, Cian Donohoe; Conor McNamee, Jordan Hayes; Bill Carroll, Ruairí McNamee, Anton Sullivan; Jack Bryant, Niall McNamee, Keith O’Neill.
Subs: Morgan Tynan for C MaNamee (39), Cathal Flynn for A Sullivan (48), Mark Abbott for J Bryant (57), Kieran Dolan for L Pearson (62), Jack McEvoy for J Hayes (68).
Wicklow: Mark Jackson; Malachy Stone, Patrick O’Keane, Tom Moran; Jack Kirwan, Zach Cullen, Oisín Cullen; Podge O’Toole, JP Hurley; Rory Stokes, Dean Healy, Arran Murphy; Mark Kenny, Kevin Quinn, Eoin D’Arcy.
Subs: Oisin McGraynor for R Stokes (45), Noel Mulhall for M Stone (49, inj), Paul Cunningham for J Kirwan (57), Mark Cullen for P O’Toole (69).
Referee: Seán Lonergan (Tipperary).