Thirteen man Offaly battle bravely but come up short against Laois

Offaly Express Reporter

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Offaly Hurling

Allianz Hurling League Division 1B

Laois 1-26
Offaly 1-20

Offaly are right in the midst of a relegation battle in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League after losing their second consecutive game of the campaign in front of a sparse crowd in O'Moore Park on Saturday evening.

Two red cards for Offaly, one either side of half-time, swung the game in favour of Laois and they led by as many as nine at one point in the second-half.

At that stage it looked like Laois were set to romp home but Offaly gained the upper hand in defence and kept the home side in check.

While it was ultimately in a losing cause, Offaly never stopped battling and they managed to get back within five late in the game. Had they taken one of the goal chances that came their way and had they converted all their frees in the last ten minutes, it could have been even better for the visitors.

Ultimately, Laois had enough in hand to see out the game and it will leave Offaly propping up the table at the end of the second round of games.
It had all started to well for Offaly who were 1-2 to 0-0 ahead after just five minutes with Oisin Kelly getting the early goal and Peter Geraghty getting both of the points.

Laois responded quickly and were ahead after 10 minutes with Neil Foyle getting the goal. Laois were finding space in the Offaly defence and moved 1-5 to 1-3 ahead but a spectacular long range point from Cillian Kiely and a free from Shane Dooley levelled matters again after 16 minutes.

Laois went back in front thanks to a fourth point from Picky Maher after 20 minutes. Shane Dooley launched over a free from inside his own '65 to get Offaly level and added another from under the stand to put Offaly in front.

However Willie Dunphy drew Laois level with a fine point over his shoulder from tight to the sideline on the terraced side of O'Moore Park and Cha Dwyer did the same from the other wing to put Laois in front.

Points from Dwyer and Maher (2) put Laois 1-11 to 1-7 ahead approaching half-time and they were close to a second goal but Ben Conneely got in a well timed hook to deny Neil Foyle.

Things went from bad to worse for Offaly when Sean Gardiner was sent off for taking out Cian Taylor as the Laois man bore down on goal and Picky Maher pointed the resulting free.

Shane Dooely pulled one back for Offaly before the break but Offaly headed under the stands in O'Moore Park at half-time four points down and a man down.

Laois came out firing at the start of the second-half and it went from bad to worse for Offaly when Aidan Treacy was given his marching orders after an off the ball clash with Neil Foyle.

Shane Dooley pulled one back for Offaly with another free to reduce the gap to six and he added another soon after following a point for Laois from Cian Taylor.

Picky Maher brought his total to ten with two more points with Sean Cleary answering with one for Offaly leaving the visitors seven points adrift with 45 minutes on the clock.

Shane Dooley almost got in for a goal when he did well to break a ball close to goal but his kicked effort found only the side netting. Willie Dunphy and Cha Dwyer built the lead with another Shane Dooley free leaving the score at Laois 1-20 to Offaly's 1-12 with 20 minutes to go.

The sides exchanged two points apiece with Cillian Kiely and Shane Dooley on target for Offaly leaving Laois with an eight point lead.

Offaly created another goal chance when Shane Dooley picked out Oisin Kelly but his shot flew inches over the bar. That score was quickly cancelled out by Picky Maher and Cha Dwyer drove a shot from a narrow angle just over James Dempsey's bar to put nine between the sides.

Shane Dooley (2) and Sean Cleary reduced the gap again as the 13 men of Offaly more than held their own against the 15 players of Laois.

That left six points in it entering the last six minutes. Laois extended the lead to seven but Offaly never threw in the towel and were back within five entering injury-time having also missed three chances from placed ball.

In the end however, that was as close as Offaly got with Ross King rounding off the scoring with a long range point.

LAOIS
Scorers: Stephen Maher 0-12 (0-7f), Cha Dwyer 0-5, Ross King 0-3, Neil Foyle 1-0, Willie Dunphy, Cian Taylor 0-2 each, Paddy Whelan, Paddy Purcell 0-1 each.
Team: Enda Rowland; Dwane Palmer, Leigh Bergin, Padraig Lawlor; Cahir Healy, Matthew Whelan, Ryan Mullaney; Patrick Purcell, Ben Conroy; Stephen Maher, Charles Dwyer, Paddy Whelan; Willie Dunphy, Neil Foyle, Ross King. Subs: Cian Taylor for M Whelan (23), Sean Downey for Lawlor (25, inj), Aaron Dunphy for P Whelan (45), Aidan Corby for Conroy (61), Conor Phelan for Palmer (69).

OFFALY
Scores: Shane Dooley 0-10f, Oisin Kelly 1-2, Cillian Kiely 0-3, Sean Cleary, Peter Geraghty 0-2 each, Paddy Delaney 0-1.
Team: James Dempsey; Ben Conneely, Conor Doughan, Michael Cleary; Dermot Short, Sean Ryan, Sean Gardiner; Aidan Treacy, Cillian Kiely; Paddy Murphy, Shane Dooley, Oisín Kelly; Peter Geraghty, Sean Cleary, James Mulrooney. Subs: Emmett Nolan for P Murphy (29, inj), Paddy Delaney for M Cleary (half time), Enda Grogan for Mulrooney (48), Padraig Guinan for Conneely (56)

Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary)