Pat Flanagan has made two changes to the Offaly senior football team to play Tipperary in tomorrow's Allianz National Football League Division 3 game at O’Connor Park. Niall Darby of Rhode and St. Brigids' Cian Donoghue come into the back line in place of Eoin Rigney and Declan Hogan.
Flanagan has been forced into a rethink following his side's heavy 6-22 to 0-10 defeat to Armagh in their last league game earlier this month. Flanagan came under intense pressure after that 30-point loss and Offaly are facing into a relegation dogfight if they fail to get a result on Sunday.
Flanagan has kept faith with the rest of the team that lost to Armagh in all other areas of the field. Eoin Carroll and Conor McNamee continue their midfield partnership, while Ruairi McNamee keeps his place in the inside forward line having led the county's U21 side to a Leinster Final with a victory defeat over Laois during the week. Nigel Dunne and Bernard Allen complete the inside forward line tasked with out-scoring Tipperary.
That now looks a tough assignment for the Offaly men as their opponents, Tipperary, come into the contest sitting second in Division 3 and hunting promotion. They recorded an impressive eight-point win over Longford last time out, a team that has beaten Offaly twice this year in both the League and O'Byrne Cup.
Offaly supporters were divided in their assessment of Offaly's collapse in Armagh, but all will be united in their expectation of a big reaction from the fifteen men tasked with lining out against Tipperary on Sunday. James Lawlor will have a big weight on his shoulders in trying to stop the threat of the exceptionally talented Michael Quinlivan who lines out at full-forward for the Premier. Tipperary are not short of scorers throughout the team, and they put a huge 3-17 on the board against Longford in their most recent league outing.
Offaly will look to avenge a heavy 2-11 to 0-12 loss to Tipperary in last year's league campaign where Quinlivan notched one of the goals for Liam Kearns' men. They went on to put a serious run together, culminating in an All-Ireland semi-final appearance, while Offaly have languished since, and now sit bottom of Division 3.
The game takes place at O'Connor Park, Tullamore, on Sunday, March 19 with throw-in at 2pm.
The Offaly team to play Tipperary:
1 Ken Garry (Rhode)
2 Cian Donoghue (St Brigid’s)
3 James Lawlor (Raheen)
4 Sean Pender (Edenderry - Capt)
5 Niall Darby (Rhode)
6 Brian Darby (Rhode)
7 David Hanlon (Edenderry)
8 Eoin Carroll (Cappincur)
9 Conor McNamee (Rhode)
10 Graham Guilfoyle (Clara)
11 Peter Cunningham (Bracknagh)
12 Michael Brazil (Tullamore)
13 Ruairi McNamee (Rhode)
14 Nigel Dunne (Shamrocks)
15 Bernard Allen (Tubber)