Kerry joy as Antrim goals shatter Offaly

The southwest and northeastern corners of Ireland were united in celebration Sunday afternoon in Bord na Móna O’Connor Park as Antrim struck two goals very deep into stoppage time to salvage an unlikely draw with Offaly in Tullamore.

Kerry joy as Antrim goals shatter Offaly

Allianz League Division 2A

Offaly 0-20 Antrim 2-14

The southwest and northeastern corners of Ireland were united in celebration Sunday afternoon in Bord na Móna O’Connor Park as Antrim struck two goals very deep into stoppage time to salvage an unlikely draw with Offaly in Tullamore, a result that knocked the Faithful County out of the league final and instead propelled Kerry into next weekend’s decider.

Carlow referee David Hughes drew the ire of the home supporters after he signalled six minutes of added time at the end of the second half, with Neil McManus firing in an incredible goal after that six minutes had expired.

Play continued and Antrim won the next puckout, earning a free at midfield. Ciarán Johnson lobbed it into the danger area, and once it broke to the ground, Conor McCann whipped his hurl and the ball crashed into the roof of the net.

“Eight minutes is a long time and I believe we were a minute short in the first half,” said Offaly manager Michael Fennelly afterwards.

“These inconsistencies are consistent in the GAA, I’’m not going to talk about it or blame anyone or complain about it because there’’s no point. I just want to move on and think about the team and where we have to go."

Certainly, Offaly will have plenty to mull over, as they consider how they failed to close out a win against an Antrim side who effectively had nothing to play for. Their start was exemplary as Peter Geraghty, Eoghan Cahill and Brendan Murphy all shot superb scores to help them move 0-8 to 0-1 ahead after ten minutes, but they failed to build on that and had only four points to spare at half-time after playing with a strong wind.

All bar three of Antrim’s points in this game came from Neil McManus dead ball strikes, and in the second half, Offaly’s defensive effort was immense. Ben Conneely, Dan Doughan, and David O’Toole Greene controlled the Antrim puckout and it seemed like their work was done as points from David Nally and Peter Geraghty pushed them six clear.

Instead, the real drama was just about to unfold.

Scorers for Offaly: E Cahill (0-11, 0-7 frees, 0-1 sideline), P Geraghty (0-1 sideline) & D Nally (0-3 each); B Murphy, S Cleary & B Watkins (0-1 each).

Scorers for Antrim: N McManus (1-13, 0-10 frees, 0-1 ’65); C McCann (1-0); C Johnson (0-1).

OFFALY: J Dempsey; M Cleary, D O’’Toole Greene, C Burke; B Watkins, D Doughan, B Murphy; L Fox, D King; J Sampson, P Geraghty, C Gath; S Cleary, D Nally, E Cahill.

Subs: B Conneely for M Cleary (22), R Ravenhill for Gath (HT), S Dolan for Sampson (57), L Langton for Cahill (64), O Kelly for S Cleary (70).

ANTRIM: Ryan Elliot; M Donnelly, P Duffin, S Rooney; G Walsh, Ciarán Johnson, A O’’Brien; K Molloy, J McNaughton; N McKenna, N McManus, R Molloy; Conor Johnson, C McCann, D Nugent.

Subs: C Cunning for O’’Brien (40), D Kearney for R Molloy (55), C Boyd for Walsh (57), E O’’Neill for McNaughton (66), A Delargy for Conor Johnson (66).

Referee: David Hughes (Carlow)

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