23 Jan 2022

Offaly U21 manager delighted with 'intelligent' players following victory over Wexford

Will Offaly defeat Kildare in the Qualifiers this Saturday?

Offaly's U21 football manager James Stewart has said he is delighted with the performance given by his players in their U21 Leinster Championship quarter-final with Wexford in Gracefield on Wednesday evening, March 1. Offaly prevailed on a scoreline of 1-06 to 0-06 in wet and windy conditions, contending well with the swirling wind on the pitch.

"It was a very heavy pitch and it was a crossfield wind that didn't really help either side," Stewart said when speaking to Midlands 103 afterwards. "It was an intense and competitive game," he added, and he went on to express his satisfaction with the way his team "managed" the game.

Offaly started relatively poorly, hitting seven wides in the first half, scoring just two points. "We had plenty of ball in the first but some chances just went astray," Stewart remarked. The teams went in at the break level, 0-02 apiece, but Offaly came out brightest following the break.

"The goal proved to be the decisive score," the manager said. Jordan Hayes was the scorer as Offaly were rejuvenated in the second period, and once they had their noses in front, Stewart says he was "more than happy" with the way in which his players "managed the game."

"Wexford were coming looking for the big score, but our lads managed it well. They didn't hurry the tackles and they stood firm under the high ball," he continued. 

The decision to move Rhode's Ruairi McNamee from full-forward to midfield in the second half was an important move, according to the team manager. "He is a very smart, intelligent player and when we brought him out, his work on and off the ball was exceptional," he stated.

SEE ALSO: Offaly to face Laois or Louth in Leinster U-21 semi-final

The manager went on to say that young players like those in his U21 squad are "the green shoots" for Offaly football, and recognised the involvement of some of them with the senior panel as a key strength. "Pat Flanagan is involved on the management team with us, and the lads love him, and the link between senior and U21 is very important."

Offaly will now face Louth or neighbours Laois in the semi-final stage after Louth recovered from a slow start to beat Wicklow last night by 1-13 to 0-9. "We would like to be at home for the next game but a football pitch is a football pitch  and we'll have to turn up anywhere," Stewart commented. 

Elsewhere last night, Longford overcame Kildare by 2-16 to 0-10 while Dublin had a comfortable 2-14 to 0-6 win over Westmeath.

If you have a story for us, sports news, an event happening in your area, or if you want to submit pictures or videos, contact the Offaly Express team via e-mail to, or through our Facebook.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.