National Football League Division 3 South: Offaly finish strongly to reach semi-finals.
By Fergal O’Brien
Offaly powered home in tremendous fashion this afternoon in Bord na Mona O’Connor Park to reach the Allianz football league Division three semi-finals. The defeat leaves Tipperary facing a relegation play-off against Longford to retain their division three status.
On a perfect afternoon for football in Tullamore, the game started in a good open fashion. The impressive Cian Farrell opened the scoring for the home side before Conor Bowe replied for Tipperary. Points followed from Bernard Allen and Conor Sweeney before a lovely team goal from Offaly which was finished to the net by Farrell. Offaly surged to the water break well on top finishing the first quarter in front by 1-05 to 0-03.
In fact, the water break came at the ideal time for Tipperary to regroup and they did so with a couple of substitutions, including former Dublin forward Phillip Ryan, who kicked two points just after the break. This was the catalyst for Tipp’ to dominate the second quarter, outscoring Offaly by 1-04 to 0-02 in the lead up to half time. The goal came from a Conor Sweeney penalty, which was awarded after Niall Darby the Offaly captain was adjudged to have overcarried the ball. This second quarter burst from Tipperary left them leading by a point at the interval, 1-08 to 1-07.
The third quarter was very stop start, with a lot of substitutions from both sides. The pick of the scores in this quarter were from both goalkeepers, with Offaly’s Paddy Dunican and Tipperary’s Evan Comerford kicking two lovely frees off the deck. It was a nip and tuck quarter with the scores tied at 1-11 apiece entering the second water break.
From here, Offaly made a dash for the winning line and blew Tipperary away in the final 15 minutes. Goalkeeper Paddy Dunican was on target again, and that score led to Offaly scoring six unanswered points to take the game away from the visitors. Second half sub and veteran Niall McNamee showed his class kicking three of these points before David Dempsey kicked the insurance point with a classy score.
A good day for the Faithful County and this win sets them up nicely for a shot at promotion to division two, with a semi-final against Fermanagh looming. For Tipperary, a disappointing start to the year and they now must beat Longford in two weeks’ time to stay in division three.
Teams and scorers:
Offaly: Paddy Dunican (0-03, 2f, 1 ‘45); Carl Stewart; Eoin Rigney; Niall Darby; Colm Doyle; Jordan Hayes; David Dempsey (0-01); Cathal Mangan; Eoin Carroll; Shane Horan; Peter Cunningham; Anton Sullivan (0-03); Bernard Allen (0-03); Cian Farrell (1-03, 2f); Ruairi McNamee.
Subs: James Lalor for Mangan; Niall McNamee (0-03) for Ruairi McNamee; Bill Carroll (0-01) for Sullivan; Cian Donaghue for Hayes; Joe Maher for Allen; Aaron Leavy for Eoin Carroll; Rory Egan for Doyle.
Tipperary: Evan Comerford (0-01); Alan Campbell; Jimmy Feehan; Tadgh Fitzgerald; Emmet Maloney; Colm O’Shaughnessy; Paudie Feehan; Steven O’Brien (0-01); Conal Kennedy (0-01); Conor Bowe (0-02); Jack Kennedy (0-01, ‘45); Brian Fox; Colman Kennedy; Conor Sweeney (1-02, 1f,); Sean O’Connor.
Subs: Phillip Ryan (0-03, 1m) for O’Connor; Kevin Fahey for Jimmy Feehan; Padraig Looram (0-01) for Maloney (inj); Jack Harney for O’Shaughnessy; Jason Lonergan for Fox; Bill Maher for Paudie Feehan; Liam Boland for Colman Kennedy; Shane Foley for Jack Kennedy; Riain Quigley for Foley.
Referee: James Bermingham (Cork).