Emotional Win For Footballers In Thurles
Allianz Football League Div 3: Offaly 2-14 Tipperary 0-13 (by Kevin Corrigan)
On a difficult day for the Offaly and Tipperary players, both sides deserve credit for managing to serve up an entertaining game of football in Semple Stadium.
The sides paid a moving tribute to the late Liam Kearns before the throw in and his memory pervaded the air here.
The Kerry man was the Offaly manager this year and his sudden death last Sunday, hours after overseeing a training session, had devastated his players.
He also managed Tipperary for four years in the 2010s and this was a very emotional game for both counties – they stood to attention for a poignant guard of honour before the throw in.
A keenly contested and decent Division 3 tussle emerged with Offaly coming out on top thanks to injury-time goals from Ruairí McNamee and Anton Sullivan.
Tipperary had most of the possession in the first half but Offaly deservedly led by 0-09 to 0-07 at half time. The visitors were sharper up front, moved the ball that bit quicker and took more of their chances.
Tipp deservedly led by 0-03 to 0-01 after 13 minutes but should have been further in front. They also kicked three bad wides and were punished when Offaly found their form to lead by 0-5 to 0-3 after 21 minutes.
The home team recovered their composure and a point from the in form Stephen Quirke levelled it up at 0-06 each after 31 minutes – Quirke got three first half points. Offaly rallied again and excellent points from Dylan Hyland, Ruairí McNamee and Anton Sullivan got them three clear before Cathal Deely made it a two point game at the break.
The third quarter was hard enough to watch as Tipperary allowed Offaly to keep the ball in their own half-back line and midfield but it certainly sprung to life late on.
Offaly were 0-12 to 0-09 ahead when Ian Duffy denied Sean O’Connor with a great save in the 51st minute – he also spectacularly kept out a goal bound flick from impressive sub Mark Russell in 54th minute as Tipp finally pushed up on Offaly and attacked the game.
A point from the outstanding Dylan Hyland put Offaly four clear in the 53rd minute but Tipp then got completely on top. Three points brought it back to a point, 0-14 to 0-13 with five minutes left – five minutes of injury-time were also played. A black card for Liam McGrath did not help Tipp but a draw was still a big possibility deep in injury time.
With Tipp goalie Michael O’Reilly moving up beyond midfield, Offaly broke to lethal effect in the 73rd minute with Jack Bryant setting Ruairí McNamee in to score into an unguarded net. Moments later Anton Sullivan got in for a second as Offaly kept their promotion hopes alive.
Offaly: Ian Duffy; Lee Pearson, Declan Hogan, David Dempsey; Rory Egan, Peter Cunningham, Cian Donohoe; Jack McEvoy, Conor McNamee; Joe Maher (0-01), Ruari McNamee (1-03), Nigel Dunne (0-04, 1m and 1f); Bernard Allen (0-01), Anton Sullivan (1-01), Dylan Hyland (0-04, 2f).
Subs: Luke Egan for Maher (48m), Jack Bryant for Dunne (56m), Cian Farrell for Allen (66m),
Tipperary: Michael O’Reilly (0-02, 1f and 1’45’); Shane O’Connell, Jimmy Feehan, Cathal Deely (0-01); Emmet Moloney, Kevin Fahey, Colm O’Shaughnessy; Paudie Feehan, Jack Kennedy (0-03, 2f); Stephen Quirke (0-03), Keith Ryan, Teddy Doyle; Mikey O’Shea, Conor Cadell (0-01), Sean O’Connor (0-01).
Subs: Donough Leahy for Doyle (35+3), Mark Russell (0-02) for Cadell (43), Liam McGrath for Feehan (56), Mark Stokes for O’Shea (60), Luke Boland for Deely (66),
Referee: James Molloy (Galway).