Terrific Tipp in overdrive

Tipperary 2-16, Offaly 2-11

It wasn't that Tipperary merely went through the motions, but once Brian O'Meara's 31st minute goal settled them, they stayed in control all the way to the finish. Brave Offaly conjured up two goals but they came too late and offered little consolation.

Tipperary started slowly enough, but goalkeeper Brendan Cummins denied the midlanders the early goal they needed when he put his body in the way of a low shot from team captain Gary Hanniffy in the 6th minute. After 13 minutes play Offaly enjoyed a two points lead, but it was significant that after Thomas Dunne levelled scores (at 0-4 each) six minutes later from the first of two expertly-struck 70's, Offaly were never lead again.

The Leinster men were never allowed the freedom to express themselves as they had done impressively against Limerick and, in reality, the best they had to offer was stubborn defence. In this context, the achievement of left corner-back David Franks against Eoin Kelly he limited him to just two points from play was even more praiseworthy than his man-of-the-match display in Thurles. Likewise, Brian Whelahan distinguished himself at different stages in what could possibly be his last game for the county.

Tipperary weren't making as much progress in attack through the opening quarter as the would have wished. By and large, their play was patchy.

But, there was to be a steady improvement after Lar Corbett bettered Niall Claffey and both Mark O'Leary and John Carroll penetrated more on the wings except that some of the finishing was quite poor. This, in turn, didn't help the players in around the goal. Apart from the fact that O'Leary's shooting in particular left him down at stages, his immediate opponent Colm Cassidy did a lot of useful work under pressure.

Once they began to dominate at half-back and achieve more at midfield, Tipperary played with increasing confidence. Thomas Dunne got in a lot of clearances against Gary Hanniffy who was again handicapped by poor shooting and again performed impressively there until an ankle injury forced him off later on. Additionally, Eamonn Corcoran and Paul Kelly did a lot of good work on the wings, while the inside trio were generally good under pressure, even though Brian Carroll did make headway in the right corner against Martin Maher. Indeed, he would have got a goal in the 32nd minute but for an outstanding save from Cummins.

That was just after Tipp got their opening goal, with Eamonn Corcoran working hard to get in a clearance which O'Meara picked up and finished with a kicked effort. They turned over 1-8 to 0-5 in front and when John Carroll got their second goal inside two minutes, Offaly's position worsened considerably.

Garry Hanniffy managed two points, from two shots which had the potential to produce at least one goal, but while Tipperary continued to accumulate wides (adding to their interval total of eight), they picked off sufficient scores to widen the gap. Simon Whelahan was operating at full-forward instead of an out-of-touch Joe Errity, but the service he received was poor and in any case Paul Curran was always very comfortable at the edge of the goalmouth.

In truth the game lacked real bite. Most of all it needed an Offaly goal or two to revive their challenge. Hanniffy got won in the 68th minute and substitute Neville Coughlan another from a powerful strike in injury time, but the final whistle brought the biggest relief of all.

*Gerard Harrington had a relatively easy job of refereeing and did it very well.

Scorers for Tipperary E. Kelly 0-5 (0-3 frees); J. Carroll and B. O'Meara 1-0 each; P. Kelly 0-3 (0-1 free); T. Dunne 0-3 (0-2 '65's); B. Dunne, M. O'Leary, L. Corbett, E. Corcoran and C. Gleeson 0-1 each.

Offaly: G. Hanniffy 1-2; N. Coughlan 1-1; B. Carroll 0-2 frees; R. Hanniffy 0-2 (0-1 free); B. Murphy, C Cassidy, M. Cordial and S. Whelahan 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY: B. Cummins; T. Costello, P. Curran, M. Maher; E. Corcoran, T. Dunne, P. Kelly; E. Enright, B. Dunne; M. O'Leary, B. O'Meara (capt.), J. Carroll; E. Kelly, C. Gleeson, L. Corbett.

Subs: D. Kennedy for T. Dunne (injured, 56th minute); G. O'Grady for Corbett (58th); D. Byrne for O'Leary (62nd); C. Morrissey for Carroll (65th).

OFFALY: B. Mullins; N. Claffey, G. Oakley, D. Franks; J. Brady, Brian Whelahan, C. Cassidy; M. Carroll, Barry Whelahan; C. Gath,' G. Hanniffy (capt.), B. Murphy; B. Carroll, J. Errity, R. Hanniffy.

Subs: S. Brown for Barry Whelahan (23rd minute); S. Whelahan for Errity (second half); D. Murray for Gath (43rd); N. Coughlan for Brown (51st); B. Teehan for Brady (59th).

Referee: G. Harrington (Cork).

*Attendance: 46,076.

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