By Eoghan Cormican
Waterford 1-35 Offaly 0-14
A massacre, this.
Waterford back on the horse, no surprises there. But the ease at which they pressed the reset button following defeat to Cork tells the sorry tale of where Offaly hurling presently finds itself.
Conceded 33 points to Galway, beaten by 19. Here, they shipped 36 scores. The difference at the end was 24-points.
There’s a truckload of work to be done to arrest the decline which has been ongoing for well over a decade now and whether Kevin Ryan hangs around to oversee it remains to be seen.
Derek McGrath, on the other hand, has a second round qualifier to look forward to next Saturday.
This will have done little to aid their preparation for whatever top tier outfit they encounter next weekend, but as least they’re on the road to getting the Cork no-show out of their system.
The winners played with the wind at their backs in the opening period and were 1-18 to 0-8 in front by the time Alan Kelly sounded his whistle for half-time.
Mind you, it took the visitors a good 25 minutes to find any semblance of a rhythm as they were deadlocked with Offaly, 0-6 apiece, after 20 minutes. Waterford returned to their favoured system whereby Tadhg Dr Burca, unmarked, sat in front of the full-back line, but struggled to breakdown an Offaly defence that began with three sweepers.
The Déise were also let down by their final delivery as a number of balls were sent in on top of Maurice Shanahan despite him being outnumbered three to one.
A Michael Brick Walsh point on 22 minutes was the first of eight unanswered scores by Derek McGrath’s side.
This run was ended by an Emmet Nolan point on 33 minutes. From the ensuing restart, though, Stephen O’Keeffe went long, the sliotar fell to Shane Bennett and he fired past James Dempsey.
The second-half was a precision. Waterford had spells where they notched six and four points without reply. And were it not for two superb James Dempsey saves to deny Shane Bennett and Austin Gleeson, the winning margin could have been far more substantial than it was.
Offaly managed just six points in the second-half, four of which arrived from play.
Theirs was the tamest of exits.
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony (0-11, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ’65); A Gleeson (0-6); P Curran (0-4, 0-2 frees, 0-1 ’65); K Moran, D Fives, J Barron, M Shanahan, C Dunford (0-2 each); J Dillon, T De Burca, T Ryan, M Walsh (0-1 each).
Scorers for Offaly: S Dooley (0-5, 0-5); J Bergin (0-3, 0-2 frees); S Kinsella, B Conneely, E Nolan, O Kelly, J Mulrooney, P Guinan (0-1 each).
Waterford: S O’Keeffe; N Connors, B Coughlan, S Fives; T De Burca, C Gleeson, Philip Mahony; J Barron, K Walsh; M Walsh, A Gleeson, Pauric Mahony; S Bennett, Maurice Shanahan, D Fives.
Subs: J Dillon for Shanahan, C Dunford for Walsh (both 49); S Daniels for Moran (52); T Ryan for S Bennett (55); P Guinan for Murphy (58); P Curran for Pauric Mahony (60);
Offaly: J Dempsey; B Conneely, D Shortt, P Camon; S Gardiner, A Treacy, D King; S Ryan, J Bergin; P Murphy, S Kinsella, E Nolan; J Mulrooney, S Dooley, O Kelly.
Subs: E Grogan for Treacy, S Cleary for Dooley (both HT); M Cleary for Nolan; P Geraghty for Kinsella (both 54);
Referee: A Kelly (Galway).