Joe Bergin ends Offaly’s painful month with goal-scoring flourish against Kerry

Offaly 3-19 Kerry 0-20: The crisis in Offaly hurling has abated for another fortnight at least after Eamonn Kelly’s county side came through a tense encounter with Kerry, securing their progression to the knockout stages of the Leinster championship thanks to two second half goals from Joe Bergin.
Joe Bergin ends Offaly’s painful month with goal-scoring flourish against Kerry

The result draws to a close a tumultuous month for the Kildangan native, after he and his players shipped heavy criticism in the aftermath of their heavy defeat to Westmeath three weeks ago.

““We got a lot of grief after the Westmeath game but you can’t take away that Westmeath are a good side and I think they’ll give Galway lots of it in that quarter final. Our performance on the day was bad and that’s what we had to focus on, we had to look at our game plan and change it. Thankfully we’re in a quarter final now” said Kelly after yesterday’s win.

It looked as if more brickbats might have been heading in the direction of this Offaly group after Kerry burst out of the blocks at O’Connor Park and picked off five of the first six points of the contest, teenage players Jason Diggins and Brandon Barrett both finding the target with top class scores.

As has been the case all year, Offaly were hugely reliant on Shane Dooley’s placed ball expertise to keep them in contention and the Tullamore man delivered the goods with an array of frees and one superb sideline cut. He also tapped in a goal from close range shortly before half time to give his side a 1-9 to 0-11 interval lead, a score that Kerry selector Mark Foley singled out as hugely influential.

“We were two points up and starting to pull away and then conceded a sucker punch of a goal on the stroke of half time” said Foley afterwards. “We got our momentum back at the start of the second half and got the first three points but again we conceded another hammer blow of a goal. Today was a good reflection of the fact that goals win games” he conceded.

Joe Bergin added that vital second goal, rising highest to flick Shane Dooley’s high delivery past Aidan McCabe. When Kevin Connolly followed up with a point, Offaly were five clear – but Kerry continued to match their midland opponents from general play.

Shane Nolan and Brandon Barrett continued to pick off some nice points, they never really troubled James Dempsey in the Offaly goal.

Bergin’s second goal, again assisted by Dooley, killed off any lingering hopes of a Kerry comeback and set Offaly up with a home Leinster quarter-final against Laois, where a win would take them out of the round robin series in 2017.

Offaly Scorers:

S Dooley 1-10 (0-8f, 0-1 ’65, 0-1 s/line), J Bergin 2-2, K Connolly 0-2, S Kinsella, J Mulrooney, C Kiely, P Guinan & L Langton 0-1 each.

Kerry Scorers:

S Nolan 0-8 (0-6f), B Barrett & J Egan 0-3 each, D Collins & J Griffin 0-2 each, J Diggins & T Casey 0-1 each.

OFFALY:

J Dempsey; C McDonald, D Shortt, P Rigney; D King, S Gardiner, D Mooney; S Ryan, P Camon; C Kiely, S Kinsella, P Murphy; S Dooley, J Mulrooney, J Bergin.

Subs:

K Connolly for Camon (35), B Conneelly for Mooney (55), P Guinan for Kinsella (58), L Langton for Murphy (66), S Cleary for Kiely (66)

KERRY:

A McCabe; B Murphy, P Kelly, K Carmody; J Diggins, D Dineen, T Murnane; D Collins, J Griffin; B Barrett, P Lucid, S Nolan; J Conway, J Egan, J Goulding.

Subs:

M O’Leary for Lucid (29), D Fitzell for Murphy (52), B O’Leary for Conway (55), T Casey for Collins (60)

Referee:

Paud O’Dywer (Carlow)

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