Free-scoring Dooley guides Offaly to victory

Free-scoring Dooley guides Offaly to victory

Offaly 1-22 Antrim 1-17

Shane Dooley shot 1-10 to guide Offaly to their second league win over Antrim at O'Connor Park this afternoon.

Dooley found the net in the fourth minute, and the Faithfuls pressed on to lead by 1-12 to 0-6 at the interval.

Offaly opened up a 12-point lead soon after, but Antrim showed signs of a revival. They scored 1-5 without reply, including substitute Declan Lynch's 59th-minute goal.

However, the home side ground out the result with closing points from Joe Bergin and Brendan Murphy.

Offaly manager Ollie Baker made three changes in personnel with James Rigney, Derek Molloy and Sean Ryan making way for David Franks, James Mulrooney and Dermot Mooney respectively.

Antrim boss Jerry Wallace was again without his Loughgiel Shamrocks contingent, who are celebrating yesterday's All-Ireland Club SHC title success.

But the Saffrons emerged with some credit as they put in a strong second half display despite only travelling south with 22 players in their matchday squad.

Shane McNaughton and Mulrooney traded points in the opening three minutes, but Dooley's goal provided the platform for Offaly to leave the Glensmen on the back foot for long spells of this contest.

The Tullamore clubman smashed the ball past debutant goalkeeper Seanan McToal after good approach work by both David Kenny and Murphy. His close range finish gave the hosts a lead they would not relinquish.

McNaughton responded with his second placed ball to make it 1-1 to 0-2, yet Offaly oozed composure in attack over the next nine minutes.

Dooley was unerring from placed balls as he added three further points to his tally, while Rory Hanniffy claimed his lone score of the game with a superb 10th minute strike from 60 metres out.

This purple patch ensured Baker's men led by 1-5 to 0-2 after 13 minutes. Antrim had a couple of goal-scoring opportunities, the best of them saw Offaly goalkeeper James Dempsey made an excellent save to deny McNaughton.

Midfielders Karl Stewart and Michael Gettens lobbed a number of accurate balls in on top of the Saffrons' attack, and points from Neil McManus and Michael Herron reduced the arrears to 1-5 to 0-4.

Bergin replied at the other end, only for Herron to threaten immediately in the next phase. He won the ball in a goal-scoring position in the 19th minute, but was whistled up for a square ball.

Herron also earned a 22nd minute free following a trip by Mooney. McManus' subsequent free was caught inside by Gettens, who delivered a pass to PJ O'Connell to cut the deficit to four points.

Free-takers Dooley and McNaughton traded scores before Offaly delighted the home crowd by hitting five unanswered points in a seven-minute spell. Conor Mahon (0-2), Dooley (0-2) and Bergin (0-1) were all on target to ensure a 1-12 to 0-6 interval lead.

Antrim upped their game again on the restart, with half-time substitutes Paul Shiels and Declan Lynch certainly making their mark.

Half-back Simon McCrory was pushed forward into the visitors' attack and after Murphy landed the first of his three second half points, Antrim matched Offaly point for point over the next five minutes.

Mulrooney, Dooley and Murphy added a trio of points to ensure a 1-17 to 0-8 scoreline in the 48th minute, before Antrim enjoyed a period of dominance between the 49th and 61st minutes.

They managed to rattle off 1-5 without reply while also keeping out two goal-scoring opportunities for the Faithfuls. Mahon tried his luck in the 52nd minute amidst a crowded goalmouth, but full-back Cormac Donnelly got in a clearance for the Saffrons.

McNaughton cut the deficit to eight points with his fourth point of the half and tagged on his seventh in total a minute later, before Offaly substitute Sean Ryan sent a goal-chance blazing across the Antrim goalmouth and wide of the target.

Offaly's wides tally stood at ten at this stage, and at the opposite end Antrim were showing admirable accuracy. McNaughton slotted over another free and then Lynch netted, following up on clever play from O'Connell and Herron, to whittle the hosts' advantage down to 1-17 to 1-13 with 11 minutes left on the clock.

The four-point barrier proved beyond Wallace's young side however as clinching scores from Dooley, Murphy and Bergin stamped out any hopes of a comeback victory. The result sees second-placed Offaly keep the pressure on unbeaten leaders Clare at the top of the Division 1B table.

Scorers - Offaly: S Dooley 1-10 (0-10f), J Bergin 0-4, B Murphy 0-3, C Mahon, J Mulrooney 0-2 each, R Hanniffy 0-1

Antrim: S McNaughton 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 '65'), D Lynch 1-0, P Shiels, PJ O'Connell, N McManus (0-1 '65') 0-2 each, M Herron 0-1

OFFALY: J Dempsey; D Franks, D Kenny, C McDonald; D Morkan, R Hanniffy, S Wynne; D Mooney, D Horan; J Bergin, C Mahon, B Murphy; J Mulrooney, C Egan, S Dooley.

Subs used: J Rigney for Mooney (26 mins), S Coughlan for Wynne (48), S Ryan for Mulrooney (54), B Harding for Morkan (69).

ANTRIM: S McToal; K McGourty, C Donnelly, A Graffin; N McAuley, N McManus, S McCrory; K Stewart, M Gettens; S McLoughlin, M Herron, D Hamill; S McNaughton, C McFall, J O'Connell.

Subs used: P Shiels for McLoughlin, D Lynch for C McFall (both half-time), B McFall for Hamill (57 mins).

Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary)

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