Offaly 1-27 Laois 0-18
Offaly racked up an impressive 12-point victory over neighbours Laois in the opening round of the Allianz National Hurling league in Tullamore this afternoon and sent out a clear message to their Division 1B rivals.
The Faithful men never looked in danger and the controversial sending off of Laois’s Michael McEvoy after just 20 minutes for two yellow cards offences further compounded the Laois men’s misery.
Forwards, Joe Bergin, Sean Ryan and Brendan Murphy all brought their ‘A’ game to the table as a fresh and hungry looking Offaly side coasted to victory under the guidance of new banisteoir Ollie Baker.
There was little to separate the sides in the opening exchanges with Offaly’s Joe Bergin and James Mulrooney getting Offaly off to scoring ways while Willie Hyland who had a fascinating battle with Offaly’s James Rigney, slotting over some neat scores to help Laois keep Offaly under wraps at 0-3 apiece after seven minutes.
Offaly got the break they needed a minute later when a Derek Morkan delivery right to the edge of the small square was contested by Laois keeper Eoin Reilly and full back Darren Maher with Offaly’s Joe Bergin for company.
When the ball broke out, James Mulrooney was on hand to fire a ground stroke to the net to give the home side the edge.
Reilly went on to make three super saves in the opening half but points from Conor Mahon, Brendan Murphy and Sean Ryan kept Offaly afloat while Hyland was doing his upmost to keep the Laois men in touch.
Tempers flared on 20 minutes when Offaly defender James Rigney received what could best be described as a hefty challenge that probably merited a yellow card.
Referee James Owens adjudged Laois centre forward Michael McEvoy to be the guilty party and as he was already on a yellow, McEvoy was sent off.
That rallied Offaly and Shane Dooley (three), Bergin (three) and Brendan Murphy extended Offaly’s lead before the break as they went in 1-15 to 0-7 up at the break.
Dooley rattled the crossbar after 15 seconds of the second half but he had two more points to his name before the 40th minute as Offaly had this one already sown up.
Brian Dunne took his tally to four points after two excellent points for the Laois men but the damage was already done as Offaly led 1-18 to 0-10 after 45 minutes.
Offaly continued the rout with Dooley awesome from frees while Sean Ryan and substitute Thomas Carroll also helped the Faithful County to a 1-25 to 0-14 lead after 60 minutes.
They last 10 minutes fizzled out with Offaly stepping of the gas and Laois pegging some scores back.
Offaly: Shane Dooley (0-7, 0-3 frees), Brendan Murphy (0-5), Joe Bergin (0-4), James Mulrooney (1-1), Sean Ryan (0-3), Thomas Carroll (0-2), Rory Hanniffy, Derek Morkan, Derek Molloy, Conor Mahon and Colin Egan (0-1 each)
Laois: Willie Hyland (0-8, 0-4 frees), Brian Dunne (0-4), Joe Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fitzgerald and John Brophy (0-2 each)
OFFALY: James Dempsey; Michael Verney, David Kenny, Stephen Wynne; James Rigney, Rory Hanniffy, Diarmuid Horan; Conor Mahon, Derek Morkan; Shane Dooley, Derek Molloy, Brendan Murphy; Sean Ryan, Joe Bergin, James Mulrooney
Subs: Colin Egan (for Conor Mahon 45m), David Franks (for Michael Verney 56m), Thomas Carroll (for James Mulrooney 56m), Dermot Mooney (for Derek Molloy 65m), Mark Morkan (for Brendan Murphy 68m)
Laois: Eoin Reilly; Brian Stapleton, Darren Maher, Brian Smith; Joe Fitzpatrick, Matthew Whelan, Conor Dunne; James Walsh, Brian Dunne; Dayne Peacock, Michael McEvoy, Willie Hyland; Willie Dunphy, Tommy Fitzgerald, John Brophy
Subs: Neil Foyle (for Willie Dunphy H/T), Chris Murray (for Dayne Peacock 40m), Sean Bourke (for James Walsh 40m), Paddy Mullaney (for Brian Smith 62m)
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).