Down finish Division Three campaign with big win over Offaly
Allianz Football League Division Three round seven
Offaly 0-9 Down 1-18
UNLIKE the contest at Kingspan Breffni, where Fermanagh’s need for a win to secure promotion carried them over the line against Cavan, Offaly’s greater motivation wasn’t enough to do the same against Down yesterday afternoon in Tullamore.
They ran out of energy and were steamrollered by Conor Laverty’s side, who easily picked up a fifth win of the season.
The result proved academic in the end as Fermanagh looked after their business in Cavan and so would have gone up regardless – but it still felt as if the emotional energy that carried Offaly through last weekend’s poignant clash with Tipperary in Semple Stadium ran dry here.
They just had no answer for the Mournemen’s greater energy and line-breaking ability through the middle third of the field.
The first half was competitive enough. And while Down were full value for their 0-9 to 0-6 lead, the Faithful were well in the game, with Cian Donohoe and Bernard Allen scoring good points from play, while Nigel Dunne struck three good frees.
However, Down always looked to pose a much greater attacking threat, and the signs were there that they had the potential to cut loose.
Ryan Johnston and Pat Havern kicked some excellent points and Liam Kerr drew a fine save from Ian Duffy in the Offaly goal.
The tricky, diagonal breeze seemed to favour the visitors during the opening half, but it didn’t really have much of a bearing on the game as long balls forward were comparatively rare, while Offaly in particular didn’t look to shoot from distance at any stage.
Once the second half started, it was one-way traffic, albeit a strong defensive effort kept Down at bay for the opening 10 minutes of the half, with just a point registered at either end of the ground during that spell of the game.
Liam Kerr found the net after 44 minutes and Down tacked on the next six points without reply, with substitute Conor McCrickard giving manager Conor Laverty food for thought with three points from play for the Mournemen.
Rory Mason came close to adding another goal, but he too was denied by Offaly goalkeeper Ian Duffy. This was in the last 10 minutes, however, after Down had run their bench and still maintained a strong hold on the flow of the game.
The men in red and black held their hosts scoreless for 25 minutes until Jack Bryant and Cian Farrell added late points for the home side.
Offaly I Duffy; C Donnelly, D Hogan, D Dempsey; L Pearson, P Cunningham, R Egan; J McEvoy, C McNamee; C Donohoe (0-1), R McNamee, A Sullivan (0-1); Bernard Allen (0-2), N Dunne (0-3 frees), D Hyland.
Subs J Bryant (0-1) for Dunne (47), J Evans for Donohoe (47), J Maher for R McNamee (53), B Carroll for Hyland (53), C Farrell (0-1 free) for Sullivan (59).
Down N Kane (0-1 free); P Fegan, R McEvoy (0-1), P Laverty; R Johnston (0-2), N McParland, G Collins; A Doherty, C Fitzpatrick; M Rooney (0-1), E Branagan (0-3), D Magill (0-2); L Kerr (1-0), P Havern (0-2), R Mason (0-2, 0-1 free).
Subs D McAleenan for Kerr (49), C McRickard (0-3) for Havern (53), A Morgan (0-1) for Fitzpatrick (57), C Francis for Johnston (58), O McCabe for McParland (65).
Yellow card McCabe
Referee S Mulhare (Laois)