Oisin Kelly, two first half goals for Offaly.
OFFALY were in no mood for mercy as they sauntered into the Christy Ring Cup final with a very easy win over Wicklow in Bord na Mona O'Connor Park this afternoon.
It was a very routine, very comfortable afternoon for Offaly but they were still very professional in the way they went about their business. Offaly had been a bit sloppy in the first half of their first game against Sligo but they were much more focused and efficient here.
Their intensity levels were good, their hurling reasonably good and from an early stage, the only issue was their winning margin.
Offaly led by 5-11 to 0-5 at half time and the quality of their goal taking was particularly pleasing. Oisin Kelly got two while Brian Duignan, Killian Sampson and Leon Fox also raced through for excellent goals as Offaly quicked pulled out of sight.
The game was over as a contest after six minutes. Oisin Kelly's goal put Offaly 1-2 to no score ahead while Wicklow wing back Ciaran Breen was sent off as he tried to stop that attack and that was a devastating blow to a side who could never win this game. Wicklow had a couple of other players who floated close to the line in the first half, as they pulled a couple of dangerous enough strokes, though these may have been due to carelessness rather than sinister intent.
Offaly could have been a lot more up at half time. They had nine first half wides but their overall hurling was good. The only other downside was a few players being blocked down but Offaly didn't need to be completely ruthless and their superiority was clear to all from the start.
The second half was shooting practice for Offaly. Not all of the shooting will have impressed manager Michael Fennelly but Offaly still added 1-19 to their tally while conceding just six points.
You couldn't pick many holes in that type of scoring return. Offaly did end up with 22 wides, which was a lot. They did have some poor misses and you would definitely have to be scoring them in a competitive game against tougher opposition but it didn't matter one bit here.
Offaly's goal came from Ben Conneely nine minutes from the end and that gave Offaly a 6-21 to 0-9 lead. Interest in the match was long gone by that stage and for Offaly, it was just a matter of doing what they had to do.
A second string Offaly team had destroyed Wicklow in the league a couple of months ago and their first choice fifteen were never going to be in any danger. They will play Derry in the final next weekend and the importance of winning that and getting up to a higher grade of hurling was very obvious here.
This type of game doesn't do much for Offaly hurling but it was still good to produce a decent performance and score 6-30. Not every player was tuned in but that was to be expected and there was an enormous difference between the teams.
On a day when every Offaly player could operate in a comfort zone, David King, Ben Conneely, Leon Fox, Oisin Kelly, Eoghan Cahill, John Murphy, sub Eimhin Kelly and man of the match Brian Duignan were among the players who caught the eye.
Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 0-8 (3f and one sideline), Brian Duignan 1-4, Oisin Kelly 2-1, Leon Fox 1-2, Ben Conneely 1-1, Killian Sampson 1-0, John Murphy and Eimhin Kelly 0-3 each, Jason Sampson and Shane Dooley (2f) 0-2 each, Aidan Treacy, Liam Langton, Luke O'Connor and Colm Gath 0-1 each.
Wicklow: Andy O'Brien 0-8 (7f), Eoin McCormack, Gavin Weir and Wayne Kinsella 0-1 each.
OFFALY: Conor Clancy (St Rynaghs); Paddy Delaney (Kinnitty), Ciarán Burke (Durrow), David King (Coolderry); Aidan Treacy (St Rynagh's), Ben Conneely (St Rynaghs), Killian Sampson (Shinrone); Leon Fox (Belmont), Ross Ravenhill (Durrow); Oisin Kelly (Belmont), Liam Langton (Clodiagh Gaels), Jason Sampson (Shinrone); John Murphy (Ballinamere), Brian Duignan (Durrow), Eoghan Cahill (Birr). Subs – Luke O'Connor (St Rynagh's) for Kelly (41m), Eimhin Kelly (Lusmagh) for Killian Sampson (41m), Shane Dooley (Tullamore) for Cahill (41m), Colm Gath (Drumcullen) for Langton (52m), Damien Egan (Belmont) for Ravenhill (55m).
WICKLOW: Cian Staunton; Michael Mangan, John Henderson, Peter Keane; Ciaran Breen, Daniel Staunton, Warren Kavanagh; Mark Murphy, Eamon Kearns; Jack Doyle, Wayne Kinsella, Shaun Cranley; Gary Hughes, Andy o'Brien, Luke Evans. Subs – Gavin Weir for Highes (15m), Martin O'Brien for Murphy (43m), Eoin McCormack for Evans (43m), Bryan Kearney (for Kavanagh (46m), Torna Mulcrony for Keane (53m).
Referee – Nathan Wall (Cork).
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