OFFALY under new manager Emmett McDonnell made an encouraging start to their 2013 season with a win over Laois in O’Connor Park on Sunday in the O’Byrne Cup.
In front of a large home support, Offaly were much the better side on the day and they could have won the game by a far greater margin had it not been for 13 wides including a missed penalty from captain Niall McNamee just after half-time.
In fairness to McNamee the miss from the penalty was the only blemish on a day where he was the outstanding player on display kicking eight points with six of them coming from play. In the first half in particular Laois simply couldn’t contain the Rhode man as Offaly built a deserved 1-7 to 1-3 lead.
Offaly played with great intensity and their passing and movement and the way they flocked to the opposition ball carrier was impressive and bore all the hallmarks of an Emmett McDonnell trained side.
Clara’s Matthew Mitchell opened the scoring for Offaly after a minute on his return to the county side. That was canceled out soon after by a point from a free from MJ Tierney but the next four points all came for Offaly with Niall McNamee accounting for three with the fourth coming from a spectacular effort from marauding wing-back David Hanlon.
Laois got back into the game with a goal against the run of play from David Murphy and a point from distance from Paul Begley leveled matters with 21 minutes on the clock.
However for the remainder of the half Offaly were well on top an two points from Niall McNamee and a well taken goal from Paul McPadden set up by Eoin Carroll just before half-time put a truer reflection on the scoreboard at the break.
MJ Tierney hit Laois’ final point of the half but with the Offaly defence lead by Paul McConway and Brian Darbywell on top, Offaly went to the interval 1-7 to 1-3 ahead.
Niall McNamee extended the lead after the restart with a point and he had a great chance to put the game away from the penalty spot soon after but his kick went wide of the post.
McNamee extended the lead to 1-9 to 1-4 after 42 minutes and while Laois did enjoy a good spell after the introduction of Ross Munnelly, Offaly restricted them to two points from MJ Tierney which we canceled out by further points from McNamee and McPadden.
Entering the final seven minutes, Offaly lead by 1-11 to 1-6 and while they did fade slightly in the closing stages, no surprise given the effort they had put in, Laois could only manage two further points from MJ Tierney frees as Offaly held on for a confidence boosting win.
They now host Athlone IT in Gracefield on Wednesday before traveling to play Westmeath in the final group game on Sunday.
Offaly: Niall McNamee 0-8 (0-2f); Paul McPadden 1-1; David Hanlon 0-1; Matthew Mitchell 0-1
Laois: MJ Tierney 0-6 (0-4f, 0-1 ‘45); David Murphy 1-0; Paul Begley 0-1; Ross Munnelly 0-1f
Offaly: Alna Mulhall; Brian Darby, Paul McConway, Sean Pender; David Hanlon, Derek Kelly, Graham Guilfoyle; Alan McNamee, Richie Dalton; Ross Brady, Brian Connor, Eoin Carroll; Matthew Mitchell, Niall McNamee, Anton Sullivan. Subs: Paul McPadden for Anton Sullivan (12mins), Anton Sullivan for Alan McNamee (43mins), Stephen Guing for Matthew Mitchell (43mins)
Laois: Eoin Culliton; Denis Booth, Kevin Meaney, Paul Begley; Jamie Kavanagh, Robert Kehoe, Padraig McMahon; Rory Bracken, Brendan Quigley; Conor Meredith, James Finn, David Murphy; MJ Tierney, Colm Kelly, Ambrose Doran. Subs: Damien O’Connor for Rory Bracken (22mins), Mark Timmons for Brendan Quigley (HT), Emmett Malone for Colm Kelly (HT), Ross Munnelly for James Finn (46mins), Shane Julian for Jamie Kavanagh (52mins)
Referee: Brian O’Shea (Dublin)
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