Ironically, it was an away loss against Tipperary 12 months ago, that condemned the ‘Faithful’ to the basement division and watched by an attendance of 1,743 spectators at blustery O’Connor Park, Tullamore they exacted revenge and booked their place in an April 27 Division 4 Final against Limerick at Croke Park. A delighted McDonnell said: “I side-stepped talk of promotion up until now. It is great to get back up to Division 3 and it was great to have Niall McNamee, Niall Darby, Ken Casey, Anton Sullivan and Johnny Moloney, who’ve had their injury problems during the campaign, on the field today.”
Tipperary had first use of the significant wind in this winner-takes-all encounter and the outlook wasn’t good for them at half-time as they trailed 0-5 to 1-3. Scores by Alan Maloney, Brian Fox and Conor Sweeney meant Peter Creedon’s side led 0-4 to 0-1 after 27 minutes. But Offaly, with Niall Darby as sweeper, finished the half impressively and McNamee’s 34th minute goal coupled with a pair of Anton Sullivan points handed them the initiative.
Tipp tied proceedings for the third time with a Robbie Costigan point but Offaly were soon four up. McNamee bagged his second goal a clever Casey pass and Brian Connor followed up with a point (2-4 to 0-6). Alan Maloney’s strike resulted in a 47th minute Tipperary goal while Casey and Barry Grogan scored twice at either end before Brian Darby’s excellent 63rd minute point made it 2-7 to 1-8 to the ‘Faithful’.
Offaly wrapped matters up with three late points through Graham Guilfoyle, Casey (free) and Connor.
OFFALY: A Mulhall; P McConway, S Pender, S Sullivan; E Carroll, B Darby 0-1, M Brazil; A McNamee, R Dalton; A Sullivan 0-2 (0-1 free), B Connor 0-2, G Guilfoyle 0-1; K Casey 0-3 (0-2 frees), N Darby, N McNamee 2-1.
Sub: R Allen for S Sullivan (22), J Moloney for Allen (51), R Brady for A McNamee (68), B Allen for G Guilfoyle (71).
TIPPERARY: P Fitzgerald; J Coghlan, P Codd, C McDonald; B Fox 0-1, R Costigan 0-1, D Leahy; P Acheson, G Hannigan; C Sweeney 0-2, H Coghlan, A Matassa; A Maloney 1-2, B Grogan 0-2 (frees), M Quinlivan.
Subs: R Kiely for Leahy (half time), B Mulvihill for Matassa (45), B Young for Acheson (56), D Lowry for Quinlivan (56).
Referee: Martin McNally, Monaghan.