Offaly Lose to Down

November 8, 2018

All-Ireland SFC Qualifier Round 3: Down 1-12 Offaly 1-10


Offaly gave their all but had to settle for a two point defeat to Down in the All-Ireland Qualifier at O’Connor Park on Saturday evening.


Two years ago, Down also came to Tullamore in the qualifiers and embarrassed Offaly by scoring five goals.  On this occasion, though, Offaly stood tall and had they availed of early goal chances, could have advanced.

Instead, Offaly led 1-6 to 0-6 at the break, but Down hit a cracking goal early after the resumption and Tom Cribbin’s men never gained the initiative afterwards.


There was a pulsating start to the game as Offaly came out with all guns blazing. The scene was set with an early Ken Casey goal after a super move and the St Brigid’s corner forward followed up with a point.


Down hit back through John Clarke and Mark Poland (free), but Offaly were on top and the unstoppable Niall McNamee fired over.


Offaly looked capable of scoring more goals, but John Reynolds had a chance saved and another player hit the butt of the post with a shot.


But Offaly’s tally was increased with a Ciaran McManus ‘45’ and a Ross Brady free, leaving it 1-4 to 0-2 after 14 minutes.


The scores then dried up for Offaly and down hit back through free-taker Martin Clarke, who hit three in a row. Alan Muhall kept Offaly in front with a great save from Ambrose Rogers, and then Anton Sullivan lifted the spirits with an excellent point.


Another free from Ross Brady gave Offaly four points’ breathing space, though Down hit the last score of the half from John Clarke.


Down started the second half superbly, and after another Poland free, Aidan Carr blasted home a great goal to give the visitors the lead.


But Offaly’s heads didn’t drop and John Reynolds and Ciaran McManus (free) left the score 1-8 each 12 minutes into the second half.  Down went two ahead again, but Brian Connor cut it back to the minimum.


However, Offaly missed some good chances to draw level and despite missing quite a few chances themselves, Doon took advantage with Benny Coulter and Mark Poland helping them to a 1-12 to 1-9 advantage.


Late on Brian Connor again gave Offaly a chance with his second score, but the Faithful County could not get a match-winning goal and had to settle for defeat.


Down Scorers: Martin Clarke (frees and ‘45’) 0-4; Aidan Carr 1-0;  Mark Poland (two frees) and John Clarke (1 free) 0-3 each; Brendan Coulter, Daniel Hughes 0-1 each.


Offaly Scorers: Ken Casey 1-1, Ciaran McManus (‘45’ and free) Ross Brady (frees) and Brian Connor 0-2 each; Anton Sullivan and John Reynolds 0-1 each.


 OFFALY: Alan Mulhall; Brian Darby, Scott Brady, Sean Pender; Niall Darby, Ross Brady, Paul McConway; Richie Dalton, Brian Connor; Graham Guilfoyle, Ciaran McManus, Anton Sullivan; Ken Casey, John Reynolds, Niall McNamee.

Subs: Sean Ryan for McConway; John Coughlan for Dalton; Alan McNamee for McManus; David Egan for Casey.


DOWN: Brendan McVeigh; Declan Rooney, Dan Gordon, Damien Rafferty; Darren O’Hagan, James Colgan, Conor Garvey; Ambrose Rogers, Kalum King; Aidan Carr, Mark Poland, Paul McComiskey; John Clarke, Brendan Coulter, Martin Clarke.

Subs: Daniel Hughes for Carr; Kevin McKernan for Colgan; Ronan Sexton for McComiskey; Ronan Murtagh for J Clarke; Aidan Brannigan for Garvey.


Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).