Offaly bow out of Leisnter Senior Football Championship

November 8, 2018

Offaly were knocked out of the Leinster SFC by Meath on a scoreline of 1-20 to 2-7 at Portlaoise on Sunday.

The Royals led 0-11 to 2-3 at the break, but Offaly’s outside hopes of victory were dashed when John Coughlan was sent off in the 38th minute.

Cian Ward kicked 0-8 (0-7f) in a superb display of place kicking for the Royals, but unfortunately Offaly missed a handful of scoreable frees in the first half, which if converted would have left them in a better position at the interval.

Offaly kicked six wides in the first half, but once direct ball was pumped into Niall McNamee and Ken Casey, they looked very dangerous.

The pair caused the Meath defence serious problems with their blistering pace in the first half, and McNamee was instrumental in both of his side’s goals.

The crucial goal just before the break came after McNamee caught a long ball from Ciaran McManus on the endline, turned sharply and fed Casey, who tapped into the empty net at the far post. The goal brought Offaly to within two points of their rivals, but they could have taken the lead into the break had O’Rourke not denied McNamee with a crucial save.

The veteran corner forward skinned his marker, Eoghan Harrington, and drove the ball straight at O’Rourke. The referee initially appeared to indicate a penalty; in fact he blew the half-time whistle – much to the dismay of the Offaly players.

Shane O’Rourke, who missed the last two seasons through injury, made a fine comeback for Meath, scoring four points from play, while Joe Sherdian contributed 1-3, including a late goal in the 68th minute that added a coat of gloss to the scoreline.

Offaly’s first half goals came from Brian Connor after 21 minutes, while McNamee and Casey combined beautifully for their second just before the break to leave just two points between the sides at half-time.

However, Meath killed the game off when they kicked six successive points in a dominant eight-minute spell to lead by 0-19 to 2-5 going into the closing stages.

Coughlan’s absence was keenly felt in that period as Offaly’s challenge wilted in the broiling conditions. Nigel Crawford kicked a fine point with his left foot after his midfield partner, Mark Ward, had won the ball. Ward then kicked the score of the game with an outrageous effort from a free from just under the main stand.

Offaly finally stopped the rot when John Reynolds fired over in the 64th minute, but they were struck by a gut shot with three minutes left when Sheridan added a goal to the three points he had already kicked from play.

Sheridan’s late goal was harsh on Offaly, who must now look towards the qualifiers.

Meath: P O’Rourke, C O’Connor, M Burke, E Harrington, G O’Brien (0-1), A Moyles, C King, N Crawford (0-1), M Ward, S Kenny, J Sheridan (1-3), G Reilly, C Ward (0-8, 0-7f), S O’Rourke (0-4), S Bray (0-2).

Meath Subs: P O’Broinn for G Reilly ’56, B Farrell (0-1, 0-1f) for C Ward ’63, C Gillespie for M Ward ’63, B Meade for S O’Rourke ’64, S Kenny for J Macken ’68.

Offaly: A Mulhall; S Sullivan, S Brady, P Sullivan; C Kiely, R Dalton, K Slattery; C McManus, J Coughlan; N Darby (0-2, 0-2f), B Connor 1-0, S Ryan; K Casey (1-2, 0-1f) , J Reynolds (0-1), N McNamee (0-1).

Offaly Subs: A Sullivan (0-1) for N Darby ’48, A Lynam for S Ryan ’49, B Geraghty for C McManus ’60, R Brady for B O’Connor ’62, S Lonergan for C Kiely ’70.

Referee: Derek Fahy (Longford)