Offaly relegated to third tier of hurling championship after defeat to Kerry
Offaly will play in the third tier of the hurling championship next year after they were defeated by Kerry in Tralee today in what was effectively a relegation decider from the Joe McDonagh Cup.
Joe McDonagh Cup Round 5
Kerry 1-18 Offaly 1-16
Needing a win to avoid the drop, Offaly played the majority of the game with 14 men. They battled to the finish in Tralee but in the end, Kerry had two points to spare sealing Offaly's relegation to the Christy Ring Cup in 2020 where they will face the likes of Wicklow, Roscommon and Kildare.
Offaly made the perfect start to the game and were four points to no score up playing with the wind with points from Eoghan Cahill, Shane Dooley, Kevin Connolly and Cillian Kiely but things started to go wrong for the Faithful county soon after. Peter Geraghty was sent off following an off the ball incident and Shane Dooley saw his penalty saved after Kevin Connolly was fouled.
Kerry pulled themselves back into the game and were level at 0-5 apiece with 24 minutes on the clock. Kerry then edged in front for the first time and what proved to be the crucial score came before half-time when Padraig Boyle found the back of the Offaly net.
Kerry led by 1-7 to 0-6 at the break but Offaly were given a lifeline after half-time. After the sides exchanged points, Shane Dooley found the back of the net to get Offaly back within one.
It remained close up to the hour mark before Kerry pulled three points clear at 1-13 to 1-10.
Offaly were always within a goal throughout this period but the crucial three pointer they needed never came and Kerry extended the lead to five entering the final stages at 1-18 to 1-13.
Offaly continued to push to the whistle with Shane Dooley hitting the final three points from frees but they were still two points behind when the final whistle went.
The result capped a forgettable campaign for Offaly who lost all four games to Laois, Westmeath, Antrim and Kerry while they also sacked their manager midway through.
Just 21 years after last winning the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, Offaly are now a third tier team and facing a steep climb if they are to get back to the lofty heights achieved in the 1980s and 1990s.
Kerry: J B O'Halloran, J O'Connor, B Murphy, S Weir, D Goggin, M Boyle, D Collins, J Buckley, T O'Connor, M O'Leary, S Conway 0-11f, P Kelly 0-01, P Boyle 1-01, J Conway 0-2, J Goulding 0-1. Subs: C Harty 0-2 for D Goggin (ht), M Slattery for J Goulding (71mins)
Offaly: E Cahill 0-2f, N Houlihan, B Connely, M Egan, D Egan, C Kiely 0-1, E Parlon, S Kinsella, C Gath, S Cleary 0-4, D Gath, P Geraghty, K Connolly 0-1, O Kelly, S Dooley 1-6 (0-6f). Subs: J Bergin 0-1 for D Gath (24mins), D Nally for C Gath (35mins), T Spain for D Egan (43mins), J Gorman 0-1 for S Kinsella (47mins), S Dolan for K Connolly (56mins).