Offaly advance in Football Qualifier

November 8, 2018

Nobody does comebacks as well as Offaly and they again displayed their survival instincts at O’Connor Park in Tullamore as they came back from the dead a couple of times.

They looked a beaten docket when they trailed by 0-6 to 0-1 at the interval, before rallying after the restart and coming within a point of a Clare side who were left kicking themselves by the end.

But having fought their way back, Offaly again slumped and their interest in this year’s championship seemed set to end when they trailed by 1-12 to 1-5 with just 14 minutes remaining.

But Niall McNamee, the classiest player on the field, provided the way forward and Offaly rallied, hitting four points without reply at one stage to leave them four adrift with a minute and a half remaining.

Clare crowded their defence but it didn’t save them as a shot by McNamee was brilliantly deflected off the crossbar by Clare goalkeeper Joe Hayes only for Ken Casey to tap home the replay.

They still needed a point to force extra-time and they got it when Ciarán McManus’ free was short but Graham Guilfoyle pounced and forced the game into extra-time.

Offaly were rampant in the first period of extra-time and outscored the Bannermen by 0-7 to 0-1 to lead by 2-17 to 1-14 at the interval in extra-time.

But Offaly again faded and allowed Clare to come storming back with corner-forward David Tubridy, who finished with 0-12, leading the way.

They got the deficit down to two points and Offaly supporters — mad keen to get to the gates to see the hurlers in Portlaoise — feared the worst until Anton Sullivan made it safe with their only score of the second period in extra-time.

It was rough justice on a Clare side who were well worth their 0-6 to 0-1 interval lead in normal time, with Offaly kicking nine wides in that period.

Offaly rallied after the restart as points from Ken Casey, Ciarán McManus and McNamee hauled them back before David Egan finished a goal to leave Offaly trailing by 0-9 to 1-5 after 44 minutes.

However, Clare again pulled away and with Tubridy tacking on the points, a goal from Kevin Cahill after being set up by Gary Brennan, should have ended the game as a contest as Clare led by 1-12 to 1-5 after 56 minutes.

But that was merely the cue for Offaly to produce their latest Lazarus job.

Both sides finished with 14 men after Graham Kelly of Clare and Offaly’s Brian Darby were dismissed for second yellows in a game which was always sporting throughout.

Scorers – Offaly: K Casey 1-4 (4f); N McNamee 0-5; C McManus 0-3 (1f, 1 ’45); D Egan 1-1; J Reynolds, G Guilfoyle, B Geraghty, K Slattery, A Sullivan 0-1 each. Clare: D Tubridy 0-12 (7f 1 ’45); K Cahill 1-1; G Brennan, A Clohessy, D Molohan (f), Graham Kelly, B Toner 0-1 each.

Offaly: A Mulhall; K Slattery, S Brady, B Darby; P Sullivan, R Brady, N Darby; B Geraghty, C McManus; J Reynolds, B Connor, R Dalton; A Sullivan, K Casey, N McNamee. Subs: S Pender for Sullivan, 35; G Guilfoyle for Dalton, 35; D Egan for N Darby, 35; P McConway for Geraghty, 54; S Lonergan for Slattery, 86; A McNamee for Egan, 89; N Dunne for A Sullivan, 90.

Clare: Joe Hayes; M Tubridy, B Duggan, B Carrig; M McMahon, G Kelly, D Callinan; G Quinlan, G Brennan; D Daly, P O’Dwyer, A Clohessy; D Molohan, D Russell, D Tubridy. Subs: K Cahill for Molohan, 29; John Hayes for Russell, 35; L Healy for Carrig, 50; G Kelly for Daly, 60; B Clancy for Callinan, 70; B Toner for Clohessy, 70; C Dunning for Clancy, 77; S McNeils for Duggan, 80.

Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh)