PREVIEW: Offaly face tough task on trip to Derry in search of first league win

Offaly go into the game on the back of two tough defeats

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly

Offaly face tough task on trip to Derry in search of first league win

Offaly face tough task on trip to Derry in search of first league win

The Offaly senior footballers are staring into a relegation scrap if they fail to collect their first win in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League against Derry this weekend. 

Stephen Wallace's men were overrun by Longford and beaten well on a scoreline of 3-18 to 1-13 on the opening day of the league, denting the early optimism surrounding the team's O'Byrne Cup performances. 

The Kerry native then had to regroup and refocus his charges for a tough trip to promotion chasing Fermanagh, where Offaly conceded two goals and lost out on a scoreline of 2-11 to 1-6.

VIDEO: Offaly manager Stephen Wallace spoke to Gaelic Weekly to reflect on the Fermanagh defeat last week

The relatively new Offaly squad, made up of a host of U21 players from last year, as well as a minor county star from 2017, Cian Johnson, face Derry at 2pm on Sunday in Celtic Park. 

Wallace has repeatedly told the Offaly Express that there is a lot of work to do, commenting to us that they are "trying to mould a county team" out of an inexperienced group at the level. 

He had been hoping for "a performance" against Fermanagh, saying "we can work on a performance," and he feels his team showed signs of that against Fermanagh, but admitted some mistakes were costly.

Meanwhile, Derry are also crestfallen after two defeats in their opening two fixtures of Division 3 against Westmeath and Longford. 

Longford had 11 points to spare over Offaly before going on to beat Derry by seven points, leaving the Oak Leafers will be wounded and looking to beat a Midlands team at the third time of asking.

Their manager Damian McErlain has been quoted this week as saying there won't be much between the side's but the Ulster outfit are the 2/5 favourites. He is confident of his team bouncing back, and has told the Belfast Telegraph that his side must bounce back. 

Offaly are still finding their feet under Stephen Wallace who has been instilling a free-flowing style of football that takes teams time to master alongside the huge defensive effort needed to make it work. Offaly have conceded five goals in two games, and will be hoping to improve their defensive numbers this weekend.

Facing a wounded Ulster animal will be a dangerous arena to step into for Offaly, and up against the vastly more experienced Derry team, Wallace and his men could be looking at their third defeat on the hop. 

Verdict: Derry by five points

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