Despite a determined late fight back that saw them score the final five points of the game, Offaly suffered their second defeat of the O’Byrne Cup campaign at home to Wexford last Sunday.
Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup
Having played against the wind in the first-half, Offaly went to the break trailing by 0-11 to 0-5 and they struggled to make an impact early in the second-half with Wexford moving 0-16 to 0-8 clear entering the final 15 minutes.
However Offaly showed an excellent fighting spirit and two points apiece from Nigel Dunne and Joe Maher and one from Ruairi Allen reduced the gap to three entering the final minutes. Offaly also created an excellent goal scoring opportunity but Niall Geraghty’s close range pile-driver was well saved by Shane Richie in the Wexford goal.
In the closing minutes Wexford managed to hold possession well and frustrated Offaly’s attacking efforts to hold on for a three point win.
Offaly had made a strong start against the wind and after conceding the first two points, scored four without reply through Niall McNamee, Nigel Dunne, Ken Casey and Michael Brazil to lead by 0-4 to 0-2 after 17 minutes.
Wexford however dominated from there to the break scoring nine points with Offaly’s only response coming from a Nigel Dunne free. Kevin O’Grady top scored for Wexford with seven points including two after half-time that extended the lead to eight.
Impressive half-time substitute Joe Maher, Niall McNamee and Nigel Dunne pulled points back for Offaly but Wexford responded with three of their own to build what turned out to be a match winning eight point lead despite Offaly’s late heroics.
Over the course of the three O’Byrne Cup games, Offaly manager Emmett McDonnell fielded 28 players giving almost his entire squad game time in the early season tournament.
Still out injured are Brian Darby and Anton Sullivan along with the hurlers who have declared their intention to play both codes for Offaly this year.
Despite the defeat and a midweek setback against Laois, manager Emmet McDonnell is pleased with the progress being made ahead of the league opener away to Wexford.
“They’ve been in a number of Leinster Finals and they were in a Leinster semi-final against Meath last year. That’s where we’re trying to get up to. We’re trying to get to that level. We’re trying to give young lads game time and we’re trying to improve the whole time. This week we gave 28 players game time so that’s very good from that point of view.”
“We’re trying to build a spirit there. Fitness levels are improving, strength levels are improving. Now it’s the small little things, the decision making, the passing, the clinical finishing at times that Wexford had. We needed two chances to get a score where Wexford when they got up were scoring two out of three.”
Scorers: Offaly: N Dunne 0-5 (3f), J Maher 0-3, N McNamee 0-2, R Allen 0-1, K Casey 0-1, M Brazil 0-1. Wexford: Scorers: K O’Grady 0-7 (4f), B Brosnan 0-4 (3f), Colm Kehoe 0-2, C Lyng 0-1, J Holmes 0-1, Cillian Kehoe 0-1
OFFALY: Alan Mulhall; David Brady, Paul McConway, Daragh Corbett; Scott Delaney, Michael Brazil, Niall Darby; Johnny Brickland, Ruairi Allen; Graham Guilfoyle, Nigel Dunne, Niall Smith; Ken Casey, John Maloney, Niall McNamee. Subs: Joe Maher for S Delaney (HT), Joe O’Connor for D Corbett (HT), Luke Kelly for G Guilfoyle (56mins), Niall Geraghty for K Casey (61mins), Jason Devery for J Brickland (65mins), Jason Devery for N Smith (69mins)
WEXFORD: Shane Riche; Brian Malone, Graeme Molloy, Sean Gaul; Tiernan Rossiter, Michael Furlong, Conor Carty; Cillian Kehoe, Paddy Byrne; Colm Jehoe, Graeme Cullen, Ben Brosnan; Ciaran Lyng, James Holmes, Kevin O’Grady. Subs: PJ Banville for Kevin O’Grady (39mins), Barry O’Gorman for G Cullen (49mins), Rob Dempsey for C Lyng (63mins), Kevin Day for PJ Banvilee (70mins)