FOLLOWING their defeat at home to Wexford in their second game of the league last weekend, the Offaly footballers now face a must win game against Limerick next Sunday if they are to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Tom Cribbin’s side were below par against Wexford and the manager was in little doubt about the task facing his side in the weeks ahead.
“Our backs are to the wall now. We know what we have to do. We can’t lose next week, it’s as simple as that. We have to pick ourselves up. There are no excuses now we just have to make sure we get a result.”
Offaly managed just two points against the strong wind in the first-half with their opening score only coming after 27 minutes. By comparison Wexford scored 1-4 in the second-half.
Tom Cribbin was unhappy with the return in the first-half and questioned some of the options taken in front of goal.
“Two points wasn’t a good enough return for the possession we had in the first half. We created some great chances but you just need to keep the scoreboard ticking over the whole time. We took some stupid decisions. We kicked the ball up in the air when we needed to take them on and win a free. We needed to get a score or two early to settle the team. When we didn’t score for so long it set in panic rather than settling them.”
Offaly were beginning to close the gap in the second-half when Wexford struck for a goal that left eight points between the teams giving the home side too big a mountain to climb. However when asked about the concession of the goal, Tom Cribbin again pointed to his side’s first-half deficiencies as the root of the problems on the day.
“There’s no point blaming the lads there, it was in the first-half the damage was done in that we conceded eight and we only kicked two points. We definitely should have had three or four more. We went out then and conceded five against a strong breeze. There’s a lot of work to be done but we’re missing a couple of lads through injury and different things and we need everybody back.”
The manager also stated that the team’s work-rate would have to improve.
“Work-rate is something we need to get into our game. We are working on it to try and improve a bit but the higher you step up, your work-rate has to keep improving.”
While some players made their return to competitive action on Sunday, Tom Cribbin remarked that he would prefer to have more stability with his team selection.
“You’d like to have a bit more stability. Our full-back line did reasonably well considering the pressure they were under. In our half-back line, Joe Quinn picked up and injury and Karol Slattery was out and Ross Brady. There was Sigerson during the week and there was U-21 Championship yesterday but I suppose we can’t use that as an excuse given the way Bernard Allen played.”
He also inferred that it might be some time before Anton Sullivan returns to competitive action.
“Definitely Anton has the pace and the ability to set things up but we have to look after him to make sure that he gets that shoulder completely right. He could have problems with that for the rest of his life if we don’t get things right.”