MATCH REPORT: Own goal heartbreak for Offaly in dire defeat to Louth
Allianz Football League Divsion 3 - Round 3
Offaly have fallen to their second league defeat of 2019 after a Declan Hogan own goal deep into injury time completed a second-half comeback for the visiting Louth outfit in a drab affair in O'Connor Park on Sunday, February 10.
John Maughan's team were six points up with 20 minutes to play but playing against a strong breeze in the second period, they were under pressure as Louth worked to overcome the deficit, despite being down to 14 men from the 43rd minute and 13 from the 50th minute.
With the wind in the first half, Offaly set out to build a lead with the ever-reliable Bernard Allen pointing a brace of frees in the opening eight minutes.
There were plenty of wides, handling errors and slow play in the opening half as Louth tried to build from the back and refrain from kicking into the wind, while Offaly struggled to go through the hands fluidly.
Louth were level on 21 minutes as Sam Mulroy pointed his second free of the half while the first score from open play came when Offaly turned over a short Louth kick out. Niall Darby got the ball on the move and fed Anton Sullivan who advanced and buried past Fergal Sheeky.
A Peter Cunningham free in the 25th minute put Offaly 1-3 to 0-2 ahead, before Mulroy replied from another placed ball just 40 seconds later. The Bracknagh man fired over another free in the 28th minute as Offaly went back into a four-point lead.
That gap was eaten up when Louth ran at Offaly, leaving Conal McKeever running down under the stand and toward goal before feeding a cool handpass across Paddy Dunican to the awaiting Ciaran Downey who palmed to the net.
Needing a lead to bring into the dressing room, Offaly responded well with the first point of the game from open play coming from captain Niall Darby in the 31st minute and a second goal coming from the boot of Shane Horan after a neat one-two inside.
A 2-5 to 1-3 lead was a perilous one for Offaly who faced into a stiff breeze in the second half but they made the perfect possible start with a point from play from the right boot of Bernard Allen.
Sam Mulroy replied with yet another free for Louth before Conor Early was sent off for the visitors after a strike on Cian Donohoe. Ruairi McNamee restored the six-point lead on the 48-minute mark and with the numerical advantage, Offaly looked set for a win after a stop-start phase early in the second half.
Louth, however, threw caution to the considerable wind and came back into the contest with a brace from Mulroy and a further white flag from Tommy Durnin putting the scoreboard at 2-7 to 1-7 with 61 minutes gone.
Offaly were doing themselves no favours with a succession of lost short kick-outs piling pressure on the fullback line and leaving the posts a reachable target for the team in red.
Louth duly obliged their travelling support with another point from substitute Eoghan Duffy reducing the deficit to just two after 68 minutes. Bernard Allen restored the three-point lead with a Bernard Allen free as the game headed for five minutes of injury time.
Two points from Ruairi Moore and Tommy Durnin brought the Offaly lead down to a point as the home side's mistakes continually saw them hemmed into their own half. Offaly had been trying to hold onto possession to see out the win but it was Louth on the front foot for the majority of the second half despite their numerical disadvantage.
Niall McNamee's long-awaiting return came when he replaced clubmate Ruairi McNamee but even his presence couldn't kickstart Offaly into a much-needed period of attack late on.
The pressure evetnually told as another turnover saw the Offaly defenders running towards their own goal in an effort to clear a last-minute attack from Louth and with little time or space, Declan Hogan inadvertently kicked the ball into his own net.
That unfortunate goal proved to be the last act of the game as the referee's final whistle brought the curtain down on a disappointing defeat for Offaly on a 2-10 to 2-8 scoreline.
Offaly's considered ambition of the first half wilted in the second as they penned themselves into their own half, made numerous handling mistakes and eventually coughed up another two points to visiting opponents.
Offaly: Bernard Allen 0-4 (2frs); Shane Horan 1-0, Anton Sullivan 1-0; Peter Cunningham 0-2 (2frs); Niall Darby 0-1; Ruairi McNamee 0-1
Louth: Sam Mulroy 0-6 (5frs); Ciarán Downey 1-0; Tommy Durnin 0-2 (1f); Eoghan Duffy 0-1; Ruairi Moore 0-1; Declan Hogan 1-0 (OG)
Offaly: Paddy Dunican, Declan Hogan, Eoin Rigney, David Dempsey, Joey O'Connor, Paul McConway, Cian Donohoe, Cathal Mangan, Johnny Moloney, Shane Horan, Peter Cunningham, Niall Darby (Capt.), Bernard Allen, Anton Sullivan, Ruairi McNamee.
Subs: Niall McNamee for Ruairi McNamee (54mins); Eoin Carroll for Cian Donohoe (58mins); Dan Molloy for Cathal Mangan (64 minutes)
Louth: Fergal Sheeky, Fergal Donohoe, Emmet Carolan, James Craven, Anthony Williams, Bevan Duffy, John Clutterbuck, Tommy Durnin, Conor Early, Conor Brannigan, Ciarán Downey, Conal McKeever, Andy McDonnell, Sam Mulroy, Declan Byrne.
Subs: Eoghan Duffy for Andy McDonnell (57mins); Jim McEneaney for Ciarán Downey (58mins); James Califf for Conor Brannigan (63mins); Eoghan Callaghan for Conal McKeever (72mins)