OFFALY suffered an eleven points reversal at the hands of Donal O’Grady managed Limerick in the Pat Carroll Commemorative clash at Coolderry on Sunday evening.
It is twenty-five years since the flame haired 1980 & ‘81 All Star winner passed to his eternal reward and a nice sized crowd was present as the recently crowned Division 2 champions convincingly overcame Joe Dooley’s side who will replace Limerick in the NHL’s second tier.
Offaly, who face NHL champions Dublin on Sunday week, May 29 at Croke Park, availed of the opportunity to experiment with Seir Kieran’s Eanna Murphy impressing at centre back and other players that hadn’t featured during the NHL and got a run out included Eoin Kelly, Conor Gath, Chris McDonald and Mark Morkan.
With James Rigney, Paul Cleary, Joe Brady and Brendan Murphy (David Franks is also nursing a serious injury) out of the crunch provincial quarter-final tie against Anthony Daly’s Dubs, the chances of Offaly pulling off an upset appear to be getting slimmer, although they do relish the underdogs role and being written off will provide with plenty of motivation fodder.
Limerick, after getting the better of neighbours Clare in the Division 2 NHL Final, face Davy Fitzgerald’s Waterford in the Munster Championship and they’ll be confident of doing well against the Deise.
Midway during the second half Offaly were just a goal adrift, 0-12 to 1-12, however, Limerick then broadened their shoulders and over the closing twenty minutes their superior fitness saw them comprehensively outscore the ‘Faithful’ by 0-12 to 0-4. Offaly began emptying their bench as the Limerick onslaught gained momemtum.
Limerick did most of the hurling in the first half but failed to punish Offaly to the extend that they should have. Offaly had eight wides in the first half with the aid of the breeze but despite these, Limerick only went in three points up at half time.
With changes galore in the second half, Offaly’s challenge faded away and Limerick ran out comfortable 11 point winners.
Offaly were wasteful in the first half but nevertheless had some patches of good hurling with Eanna Murphy more than holding his own at centre back. David Kenny had his hands full with big Paudie McNamara on the edge of the square but the Belmont man dealt well with the big mans threat.
Dylan Hayden got a rare start in the forwards and he went between centre forward at midfield on an evening that saw him knock over three points. Shane Dooley never really got into the game but did rack up six points while Stephen Wynne chipped in with two points from midfield.
Limerick got off to a blinding start and had 1-2 on the board inside 10 minutes without reply. Mark O’ Riordan got in behind David Kenny in the ninth minute for the goal but this brought Offaly to life and they hit three unanswered points of their own through Derek Morkan two points from Shane Dooley with the latter coming from a free on 15 minutes.
The two number 13’s, Donie Ryan and Cathal Parlon got on the scoresheet before Eoin Ryan and Pa Tobin restored Limerick’s four point advantage 1-6 to 0-5 after 30 minutes.
Offaly then got to within a point before the break with scores from Colin Egan, Brian Carroll and Stephen Wynne but late first half points from Mark O’Riordan and Donie Ryan left the Treaty men 1-8 to 0-8 ahead at the break.
Conor Mahon got a great point at the start of the second half and with a Shane Dooley free along with Stephen Wynne’s second of the day, Offaly were staying in touch with the Shannonsiders who kept the scoreboard ticking over through Graeme Mulcahy (two) and Niall Moran.
A Shane Dooley free in the 48th minute left Offaly trailing 0-12 to 1-12 with 48 minutes gone but Limerick took off from here and started scoring for fun with Eoin and Donie Ryan in the thick of it. Shane Dooley (free and ‘65’) and Dylan Hayden added a brace of points each in the closing quarter as they played second fiddle to a Limerick side who made just two outfield substitutions during the 70 minutes.
Limerick: Eoin Ryan (0-5, 0-2 frees), Donie Ryan & Niall Moran (0-4 each), Mark O’Riordan (1-1), Graeme Mulcahy (0-3), Niall Maher, Brian Geary (‘65’), Gavin O’Mahoney, Paudie McNamara, Thomas O’Brien, Sean O’Brien and Pat Tobin (0-1 each).
Offaly: Shane Dooley (0-6, 0-4 frees & 0-1 ‘65’), Dylan Hayden (0-3), Stephen Wynne (0-2), Derek Morkan, Conor Mahon, Brian Carroll, Cathal Parlon and Colin Egan (0-1 each)
LIMERICK: Brian Murray; Shane O’Neill, Seamus Hickey, Kieran O’Rourke; Niall Maher, Brian Geary, Gavin O’Mahoney; Eoin Ryan, Mark O’Riordan; Thomas O’Brien, Niall Moran, Graeme Mulcahy; Donie Ryan, Paudie McNamara, Pat Tobin.
Subs: Aaron Murphy for B Murray (half time), Sean O’Brien for G Mulcahy (47 mins), James Ryan for G O’Mahoney (56 mins).
OFFALY: James Dempsey; Michael Verney, David Kenny, Stephen Egan; Rory Hanniffy, Eanna Murphy, Derek Morkan; Conor Mahon, Stephen Wynne; Brian Carroll, Dylan Hayden, Colin Egan; Cathal Parlon, Ger Healion, Shane Dooley.
Subs: Eoin Kelly for J Dempsey (half time), Thomas Carroll for C Egan (half time), James Mulrooney for C Mahon (46 mins), Chris McDonald for S Egan (48 mins), Mark Morkan for R Hanniffy (50 mins), Conor Gath for C Parlon (52 mins), Peter Healion for D Kenny (53 mins), Shane Kelly for S Wynne (55 mins).
REFEREE: Barry Kelly, Westmeath.