Offaly to use Wicklow game to experiment with promotion already assured

Offaly to use Wicklow game to experiment

Oisin Kelly and Killian Sampson celebrating promotion.

OFFALY will be in the useful position of being able to experiment for Sunday's concluding National Hurling League Division 2A game against Wicklow in Aughrim.

With promotion to Division 1 assured after four very impressive wins over Meath, Kerry, Carlow and Down, Offaly can relax for their final game.

They won't be taking their eye off the ball as a defeat would undermine confidence and a lot of the good work that has been done to date but manager Michael Fennelly has confirmed that they will be giving game time to other players.

Speaking after Sunday's very impressive 5-25 to 1-19 win over Down, Fennelly said: “We have Wicklow next week which is going to be important again. Hopefully we will see more players in that and see their worth because it is 50/50 between a lot of players.”

It has been a fairly gruelling league campaign for Offaly. They played three weekends in a row and had one weekend off before last Sunday's game against sealed promotion with a round to spare. Some players have been carrying knocks and others will be tired after playing most of the games.

It will give management a chance to rest players who have injuries or are tired. Equally as important, it will give them a chance to play and give more game time to others who are on their way back from injury or need the action.

Defenders Paddy Delaney and Joey Keenaghan both missed action after sustaining injuries in the impressive first round win over Meath. The duo started last Sunday's game and another game mightn't do them any harm, especially Keenaghan who had a more severe injury and he would sharpen up with another start.

Offaly have been using their full quota of subs in most games and some of them will benefit from a start. There is no real benefit from starting their most experienced player, Shane Dooley, even if the game wouldn't do him any harm at all. Everyone knows what Dooley is capable of and confidence won't be an issue for him but many of the younger players would benefit from a start.

Management may experiment in the attack in particular and there could be starts for Ballinamere's John Murphy and St Rynagh's Luke O'Connor. Murphy has shown his worth as a sub this year while O'Connor is also on his way back from injury. He came on as a sub last Sunday and a game might bring him on. David Nally is another who could do with a start – the Belmont player was on the team last year but hasn't started in this league campaign. A game at midfield might help this very tidy hurler's confidence.

Management will be juggling the need to experiment with the need to win this match. They will also be conscious of the fact that fringe players will perform better with strong players around them and it gives them the best chance to show what they can do.

An experimental team should be more than good enough to win here. Nothing can be taken for granted but Wicklow have been the whipping boys in this division. They have lost their four games and it will be a major surprise if Offaly's don't collect their fifth win here.

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