Proud Eamonn Kelly salutes battling Offaly’s character

Wexford 3-11 Offaly 2-22: Eamonn Kelly hailed Offaly’s character after they stunned Wexford with their most impressive display under his stewardship, raising hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals in this Allianz Division 1B clash at Innovate Wexford Park yesterday.
Proud Eamonn Kelly salutes battling Offaly’s character

Wexford had a stunning start with two goals inside the opening four minutes but on an ideal day for hurling it was Offaly who went on to control proceedings leaving the home support stunned as their side surrendered without any real fight or purpose to their game.

‘Coming to Wexford Park was always going to be a difficult assignment for us, it’s so long since we beat Wexford at home. But the team showed character, particularly after the concession of those two early goals. The manner in which they did it, I’m proud of them,” said Kelly.

‘We have put in a fierce effort over the past number of the weeks, the fitness levels have improved along with the hurling and first touch. We can attribute this to Conor (Gleeson) who has put in a huge amount of work.”

But Liam Dunne was clearly unhappy with his side.

‘We simply collapsed after such a bright start. It was important to build on that but instead who allowed Offaly back in and control the game.”

Wexford will have nightmares about this game for it has left them with just two points with one game still to play.

They galloped into a two goal inside four minutes, with Conor McDonald converting a penalty after being fouled after just three minutes, while a minute later Aidan Nolan gave his side a 2-0 to nothing lead.

But the scoreline did not faze Offaly who responded with a Paddy Murphy goal in the 9th minute, and with Shane Dooley and Joe Bergin showing tremendous accuracy from all over the pitch they reeled in Wexford, with Bergin sending a ground shot to the net approaching the break leaving his side leading 2-12 to 2-4 at the interval.

Wexford made three changes in personnel at the break but they still looked a rattled side as the Offaly dominance continued, with Dooley sending over superb pointed frees from a variety of angles, leaving his side leading 2-20 to 2-11 with ten minutes remaining.

To add to Wexford woes they had their best player, Liam Ryan, sent off on a second yellow card one minute from the end, but for the home supporters this was a pathetic display from their side.

Wexford scorers:

C McDonald (2-8, 2-0 pens, 7 frees), A Nolan (1-0), A Shore, D O’Keeffe, J O’Connor (0-1 each).

Offaly:

S Dooley (0-15, 11 frees, 1, 65), P Murphy, J Bergin (1-2 each), S Ryan, J Mulrooney (0-1 each).

WEXFORD:

C O’Leary; L Ryan, M O’Hanlon, A Kenny; E Moore, P Foley, E Conroy; L Chin, H Kehoe; S Tomkins, A shore, A Nolan; L Og McGovern, C McDonald, P Doran.

Subs:

D O’Keeffe for Kehoe (29); I Byrne for Doran (ht), J O’Connor for Conroy (ht); D Dunne for Tomkins (ht), P Morris for Shore (inj. 50).

OFFALY:

J Dempsey; S Gardiner, C McDonald, P Rigney; P Camon, C Doughan, D Shortt; S Kinsella, S Ryan; P Murphy, C Egan, J Mulrooney; S Dooley, J Bergin, J Gorman.

Subs:

P Guinan for Mulrooney (43); J Sampson for Gorman (49); C Kiely for Kinsella (Blood Sub. 55), D Kelleher for Shortt (59); Kinsella for Kelleher (59), C Kiely for Murphy (62), B Murphy for Gardiner (65).

Referee:

J Ryan (Tipperary).

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