An uphill battle to avoid relegation

OFFALY boss Joe Dooley was unable to hide his disappointment after his charges suffered a demoralising 1-10 to 1-24 reversal in Sunday’s one-sided Allianz NHL encounter against Galway.

OFFALY boss Joe Dooley was unable to hide his disappointment after his charges suffered a demoralising 1-10 to 1-24 reversal in Sunday’s one-sided Allianz NHL encounter against Galway.

Despite a lengthy absentee list and the sending off of Cathal Parlon, the manager admitted, “I wouldn’t make any excuses.” He added, “We’re crippled with injuries at the minute but that’s no excuse for the performance we put in.”

After losing to Cork in round one by 1-15 to 1-20, this setback puts Offaly under considerable pressure as they strive to avoid the spectre of relegation. They welcome unbeaten Dublin (they drew with Waterford and defeated All-Ireland champions Tipperary) to O’Connor Park on Sunday week, March 6 and that will be an extremely difficult assignment.

Joe reflected, “I’m disappointed, yeah. We didn’t hurl and that’s it. That’s the bottom line. There’s no excuses really, what can you say. It’s a bad day at the office and if we hurl like that we’ll be in Division Two. I wouldn’t make any excuses. We didn’t perform.”

Already without the unavailable David Franks and Brendan Murphy, and the injured James Rigney (who sustained a broken arm against Cork), Paul Cleary, Derek Molloy, Daniel Currams and Joe Brady, Offaly suffered another devastating blow with the withdrawal of Rory Hanniffy and Conor Mahon from the starting XV just before the throw-in.

When asked if there was anything to suggest Sunday’s poor display was on the cards?, Joe replied, “Ah not really. We lost Conor Mahon and Rory Hanniffy before the game. Conor had a bad flu and Rory went over on his ankle at training on Friday night in Crinkle. We’re basically down nine or ten of the team that played in the championship against Galway last summer.”

Offaly play their next four league games in a five week spell, between March 6 & April 3, with three of them at home (versus Dublin, Wexford and Waterford). And if Division 1 status is to be preserved, a victory or two will be required.

“It’s a crunch game now (against Dublin. It is also a dress rehearsal for the May 29 Parnell Park championship clash). We have four games inside a month and we need to be winning two of them, as simple as that, if we want to stay up. So it’s going to be a battle.”

He added, “Well the only players’ who’ll be back are probably Rory and Conor Mahon obviously. Dan Currams probably has a chance as well. James Rigney is out for eight to ten weeks. Paul Cleary is going for an operation (next Monday). David Kenny is still recovering from an operation. Joe Brady has to go for an operation. Brendan Murphy’s not back yet. Derek Molloy had an operation and won’t be back for another six weeks.”

He revealed that David Kenny was replaced after ‘he got a bang on the knee’ and when it was put to him that the red card shown to Parlon was harsh, Joe replied, “It kind of was. Two yellow cards and two harmless yellow cards to be honest but that’s the rules.”

“A productive day at the office but we won’t be losing the run of ourselves,” was the view of Galway boss John McIntyre.

He added, “Obviously Offaly being reduced to 14 men made our job a good bit easier. We’re persecuted with injuries and Ger Mahon looks as though he’s had serious ankle trouble, Tony Regan went off with a groin strain and we’re already down eight or nine players and it’s really stretching our resources to the limit.”

McIntyre continued, “We’re missing Joe Canning, Damien Hayes, Kevin Hynes, Damien Joyce, Fergal Moore, Aidan Harte, Joe Gantley and Niall Donohue. We have a big casualty list. We’re anxious to make a spirited defence of the National League title, so far, so good but it’s only February. Winning is all about confidence.”

The former Offaly boss went on, “We played very good hurling. We were a little bit careless maybe in the second half but maybe it’s hard for the players to maintain the intensity levels. We’re after putting up a good score, we have four points in the bag and our scoring difference is excellent. I don’t think in fairness Offaly were at their best and nor were Wexford and we’ll keep our feet on the ground.”