Joe McDonagh Cup
Offaly 1-26 Down 1-15
By Kevin Corrigan at Glenisk O’Connor Park (from gaa.ie website)
Without setting the world on fire or truly clicking into top gear, Offaly coasted to a predictably comfortable win over Down in Round Three of the Joe McDonagh Cup in Tullamore on Saturday.
With three wins out of three, Offaly are exactly where they want to be. This may not have been anywhere near their best performance, but it was as good as it needed to be and their fate is very much in their own hands.
Struggling Down battled hard. They set up defensively and made life difficult for Offaly. They were still in the game when they trailed by just two points, 0-16 to 1-11 with 44 minutes gone but in reality, a shock was never on the cards.
Offaly started well, establishing early control. They led by 0-6 to 0-1 and 0-7 to 0-2 after 13 and 15 minutes. Down played their best hurling in the next ten minutes as they tore into Offaly. Jordan Doran raced through for a 24th minute goal as Down scored 1-3 on the trot to take a 1-5 to 0-7 lead after 26 miutes.
It didn’t take long for normality to restore. Offaly injected some real urgency and got four in a row to take a 0-11 to 1-5 lead. By half time, the gap was four, 0-14 to 1-7 and Down needed something extraordinary to happen.
They did dig in for a good while, getting four of the first six points in the second half to bring the gap back to two. Once again, Offaly found another gear when they needed to. They scored 1-3 in a row with Eoghan Cahill netting an excellent 55th minute goal to put them 1-19 to 1-11 ahead.
They didn’t fully put them away but with Pearse Og McCrickard missing some scoreable frees for Down, the closest they could get was five. Offaly finally found fifth gear late on with six outstanding points in a row, three of them from the lethal Cahill and Oisin McManus’s injury time free was too little, too late for the losers.
Scorers for Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 1-12 (7f), Cillian Kiely 0-5, Paddy Clancy 0-2, David King, Jack Clancy, David Nally, Adrian Cleary, Brian Duignan, Joey Keenaghan and John Murphy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Down: Pearse Og McCrickard 0-9 (7f), Jordan Doran 1-2, Niall McFarland, Oisin McManus (f), Stuart Martin and Finn Turpin 0-1 each.
Offaly: Stephen Corcoran; Jack Screeney, Ciaran Burke, Ben Conneely; David King, Jason Sampson, Killian Sampson; Jack Clancy, Paddy Delaney; Cillian Kiely, David Nally, Adrian Cleary; Paddy Clancy, Brian Duignan, Eoghan Cahill.
Subs: Joey Keenaghan for Delaney, inj. (19m), John Murphy for Cleary (46m), Charlie Mitchell for Paddy Clancy (51m), Dara Maher for Screeney (61m).
Down: Stephen Keith; Aodhan Furlong, Tom Murray, Niall McFarland; Barry Trainor, Caolan Teggart, Liam Savage; Jordan Doran, Ryan McCusker; Mark Fisher, Pearse Og McCrickard, Paul Sheehan; Tim Prenter, Tom McGrattan, Daithi Sands.
Subs: Chris Egan for McGrattan (32m), Stuart Martin for Prenter (HT), Finn Turpin for Sheehan (HT), Oisin McManus for McCusker (54m), Deaglan Mallon for Murray (61m).
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).