Offaly safely negotiated a potentially tricky first round qualifier tie at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park in Tullamore this afternoon, where they had the brilliance of Bernard Allen to thank for the ten-point winning margin they enjoyed against London.
The Tubber corner forward was in scintillating form throughout this contest, kicking five frees and adding six points from play, including points off both feet and from the fist.
In general, Offaly’s performance was that bit better than London’s, though manager John Maughan will be concerned about the number of attacks that ended in turnovers from misplaced passes as he prepares his side for whatever Monday morning’s qualifier draw throws up.
On the basis of this display and the scope for improvement, the Faithful County will be hopeful of mounting something of a run this summer. They showed a lot of pace and mobility in this game, and they will feel that if they can do a better job of finishing goal chances, they have the potential to mount a decent tally.
It certainly looked like they would build a healthy total in the early exchanges of this game when they got out to a great start, kicking three early points before Killian Butler’s well-placed 15 metre shot drew the sides level again after six minutes.
Unperturbed, Offaly settled about their work again and when Allen punched the ball over the bar to put Offaly 0-6 to 1-0 in front after 15 minutes, all seemed to be going according to plan. What followed however was a dismal 20 minute spell in which they failed to register a score, even though they only conceded two, both to Conor Doran.
Niall McNamee put a weak shot on goal straight into the hands of the goalkeeper while Eoin Carroll also had an effort well blocked by Philip Butler, but another burst of scores before half time – four in four minutes of stoppage time – gave them a 0-10 to 1-3 interval lead.
Allen added two further points on top of a close-range effort from Cathal Mangan to stretch the lead out to seven points after half-time, but London stayed in contention and their supporters started to think of what might be when Fearghal McMahon split the posts from 40 metres to reduce the gap to four midway through the half.
A minute later, and Offaly’s win was effectively secured. Eoin Carroll broke a kickout to his midfield colleague Peter Cunningham, and a quick transfer of possession through Anton Sullivan left Rúairí McNamee with an easy finish to the London net from just five metres.
Some impressive scores were kicked in the final quarter by both teams, but the dip in intensity was notable as London were resigned to their fate as the first team to be eliminated from this year’s qualifiers, while Offaly knew that they had safely negotiated this hurdle and would take their place in Monday morning’s second round draw.
Bernard Allen 0-11 (0-5 frees), Rúairí McNamee 1-1, Anton Sullivan & Niall McNamee (0-1 free) 0-3 each, Cathal Mangan, Niall Darby & Shane Tierney 0-1 each.
Conor Doran 0-6 (0-3 free), Killian Butler 1-1, Fearghal McMahon 0-2, Lorcan Mulvey & Liam Gavaghan 0-1 each.
Paddy Dunican; David Dempsey, Declan Hogan, Eoin Rigney,; Cian Donohoe, Johnny Moloney, Niall Darby; Peter Cunningham, Eoin Carroll; Shane Horan, Anton Sullivan, Cathal Mangan; Bernard Allen, Niall McNamee, Rúairí McNamee.
Joseph O’Connor for Donohoe (28), Paul McConway for Horan (61), Mark Abbott for Mangan (63), Shane Tierney for R McNamee (66), Shane Nally for N McNamee (69), Conor Carroll for E Carroll (72)
Gavin McEvoy; Philip Butler, Matthew Moynihan, Conor O’Neill; David Carrabine, Michael Clarke, Eoin Flanagan; Anthony McDermott, Liam Feerick; Mark Gottsche, Liam Gavaghan, Fearghal McMahon; Killian Butler, Conor Doran, Barry Tully.
Noel Maher for McEvoy (HT), Lorcan Mulvey for Tully (47), Liam Gallagher for McDermott (47), Aidan McGarvey for Carrabine (54), David Dunne for McMahon (67).
Noel Mooney (Cavan)