Brave Offaly challenge comes up just short against Meath
For more than an hour of this game in Navan, Offaly belied their status as underdogs as they went toe-to-toe with Meath before ultimately losing out to a late scoring charge from the home side.
Leinster Senior Football Championship Rd 1
MEATH 1-13 OFFALY 0-14
With 15 minutes remaining, Offaly held a 0-13 to 0-9 lead having scored seven points on the trot and John Maughan's side were on the verge of causing an upset against a Meath side who topped Division 2 in the league and who were odds on favourites to advance with ease to Round 2.
However the decisive score of the game came with 63 minutes on the clock when Bryan McMahon found the back of the Offaly net with a scrappy goal after Meath had hit three unanswered points. That put Meath in front and while they tacked on just one further point, Offaly could only manage one of their own as they lost out by just two points in Pairc Tailtean.
Niall McNamee was to the fore early for Offaly as the visitors jumped into an early lead with Peter Cunningham and Bernard Allen also on the scoresheet as they built a 0-4 to 0-2 lead. Meath responded but points from McNamee and Cunningham again left the sides level at 0-6 apiece on the half hour mark.
Meath finished the half on the front foot however and they went to the break with a 0-9 to 0-6 lead.
However Offaly shot out of the blocks hitting seven points unanswered to put them on the brink of a memorable upset.
Niall McNamee (3), Eoin Carroll (2) Bernard Allen and Shane Horan all found the target to put Offaly 0-13 to 0-9 ahead with 20 minutes remaining.
In front of a nervous home crowd, Meath eventually steadied the ship with two points from Michael Newman before Bryan McMahon hit 1-1 in three minutes to put his side in front.
Nine scoreless minutes followed before Meath extended their lead to three and while Niall Darby did hit a late point for Offaly, it wasn't enough as the final whistle went with Offaly still two points in arrears.
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Shane Gallagher; James McEntee, Donal Keogan, Gavin McCoy; Bryan Menton 0-2, Shane McEntee; Cillian O'Sullivan 0-2, Bryan McMahon 1-2, Ben Brennan 0-1; Barry Dardis, Michael Newman 0-4 (0-3f), Thomas O'Reilly 0-1. Subs: Adam Flanagan for S McEntee (35mins), James Conlon 0-1 for Dardis (43mins), Graham Reilly for O'Reilly (50mins), Sean Tobin for Brennan (52mins), Eoin Lynch for J McEntee (55mins), Padraic Harnan for Newman (75mins).
OFFALY: Paddy Dunican; Declan Hogan, Eoin Rigney, David Dempsey; Cian Donohoe, Johnny Moloney, Niall Darby 0-1; Eoin Carroll 0-2, Peter Cunningham 0-2; Shane Horan 0-1, Anton Sullivan, Cathal Mangan; Bernard Allen 0-2, Niall McNamee 0-6 (0-4f), Ruairi McNamee. Subs: Shane Tierney for Sullivan (55mins), Joseph O'Connor for Horan (60mins), Paul McConway for Carroll (64mins), Mark Abbott for R McNamee (67mins), Conor Carroll for Cunningham (72mins).