GAA Football

Antrim suffer at the hands of Offaly, losing out by 13 points

Antrim's Kevin Niblock had a hand in his side’s opening point as he set up Matthew Fitzpatrick on 21 minutes.
Tomas McGurk at O'Connor Park

Allianz National Football League Division Three: Offaly 0-23 Antrim 1-7

ANTRIM suffered their second successive league defeat yesterday when the lost out to Offaly by 13 points in O’Connor Park, Tullamore.

The hosts were never behind and were, by far, the better team on the day.

Offaly made a blistering start to the game with wing-back David Hanlon scoring inside the first 15 seconds.

Antrim carved out a few chances in the opening exchanges.

An over hit pass from Declan Lynch fell at the feet of Ryan Murray but corner-forward was eased off the ball as he shot while Paddy McAleer hit the post moments later.

After Offaly’s Bernard Allen kicked a free, the hosts landed a third point via a stunning long-range score from midfielder Eoin Carroll.

The score was the catalyst for the Faithful to up their game and they moved five clear with 20 minutes played.

Antrim’s woes continued as Ryan Murray missed a scoreable free while fellow attacker Conor Small was forced to come off with an ankle injury.

The Creggan prospect was replaced by the experienced Kevin Niblock and the Antrim skipper had a hand in his side’s opening point as he set up Matthew Fitzpatrick on 21 minutes.

Murray added a second from a free but Offaly full-forward Nigel Dunne added two further frees to keep the Saffrons at a distance.

The momentum almost swung in Antrim’s favour in the closing minutes of the half when a Conor Murray shot crashed off the post and Fitzpatrick instinctively threw his foot out to try and poach a goal.

Unfortunately for the visitors, his shot flew over, rather than under the crossbar

Offaly replied instantly with Carroll landing his second from play.

Antrim finished well as Paddy McBride left Hanlon and Peter Cunningham in his wake before firing over a great point.

Leading 0-9 to 0-4 at the break, Offaly pushed home their advantage on the restart- hitting 0-8 without reply in an impressive 20-minute burst which put the game firmly beyond Antrim’s reach.

Even without their star forward, Niall McNamee, the Faithful had more than enough firepower to overcome Antrim.

Nigel Dunne brought his total for the day to 0-8, with 0-4 coming from play as Antrim struggled to keep their rivals at bay.

Things just didn’t fall for Antrim on the day with Ruairi McCann’s goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Offaly defender Sean Pender.

Things went from bad to worse for the management team of Frank Fitzsimons and Gearoid Adams as their sixth and final substitute, Jack Hannigan, was black carded, meaning the Saffrons had to play the last 10 minutes with 14 men.

Hannigan’s St John’s clubmate, Fitzpatrick did manage to bag a late consolation goal for his besieged team, however.

A high, floating ball in from substitute CJ McGourty found Fitzpatrick on the edge of the six-yard box and the St Mary’s student turned and fired a low shot past Ken Farry in the Offaly goal.

Yet, the hosts reeled off another four points before the end with substitutes Sean Doyle and Willie Mulhall getting their names on the scoresheet to seal an emphatic 13-point win for Offaly.

After two difficult away games, Antrim will hope to pick up their first points when they host Sligo at Corrigan Park on Sunday week.

Offaly: K Garry; B Darby 0-2, J Lawlor, S Pender; D Hogan, E Rigney, D Hanlon 0-1; E Carroll 0-3, C McNamee 0-1; G Guilfoyle 0-2, P Cunningham 0-1, M Brazil 0-1; R McNamee, N Dunne, 0-8 (0-4fs), B Allen 0-2 (0-1f).

Subs: C Donoghue for Hogan (56mins), W Mulhall 0-1 for R McNamee (57mins), S Doyle 0-1 for Allen (59mins), S Nally for Hanlon (60mins), J Brickland for Guilfoyle (66mins), J Gethings for Carroll (66mins).

Yellow card: S Pender (14mins).

Antrim: C Kerr, P Healy, P Gallagher, C Hamill; P McBride, J Laverty, P McAleer; M Johnston, J Dowling; D Lynch, C Murray, S Beatty; R Murray, M Fitzpatrick, C Small.

Subs: K Niblock for Small (17mins), R McCann for Beatty (HT), S Donnelly for Johnston (40mins), O Hamill for Healy (42mins), CJ McGourty for Lynch (50mins), J Hannigan for C Hamill (56mins).

Yellow cards: J Laverty (57mins), O Hamill (62mins)

Black card: J Hannigan (57mins, not replaced)

Referee: E O’Grady (Leitrim)

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