Offaly claim away win over Antrim in Division 3 opener

Offaly's ability to take goal chances in contrast to Antrim passing up theirs proved the winning and losing of this Allianz Football League Division Three opener at Corrigan Park
Offaly claim away win over Antrim in Division 3 opener

WINNING START: Offaly manager Liam Kearns. File pic: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Allianz Football League, Division Three 

Antrim 0-12 Offaly 2-12

Offaly's ability to take goal chances in contrast to Antrim passing up theirs proved the winning and losing of this Allianz Football League Division Three opener at Corrigan Park on Sunday.

Ruairi McNamee struck on 25 minutes as the visitors opened a nine point gap towards the end of the opening half, but withstood an Antrim fightback in the second period that saw four good goal chances come and go before Bernard Allen found the net in stoppage time for the Faithful that sealed the win and an opening two points.

Aided with a swirling wind at their backs, the visitors wasted little time in making an impact with their opening two attacks yielding points from Joe Maher and Dylan Hyland.

Antrim began to settle and enjoyed plenty of possession, but were being pressed well before getting into the scoring zone until Dominic McEnhill opened their account on six minutes.

The sides would swap scores but Antrim were starting to waste quite a few chances - a feature of their afternoon with a dozen wides overall - with shots either dropping shorty or tailing wide and Offaly were much more economical, rattling off four points on the spin - the pick coming Anton Sullivan after they had turned over the hosts.

Offaly were putting pressure on the home kick-out and on 25 minutes this paid off in spades as they won the ball in midfield with Peter Cunningham breaking through the heart of the home defence and although held up close to goal, the ball broke for Anton Sullivan to slot into the net.

A pair of Hyland frees extended the gap to nine, but Antrim finally ended a barren 20 minutes with Ryan Murray kicking a free and McEnhill another to narrow the gap as Offaly led 1-8 to 0-4 at the half.

The early exchanges of the second period saw the sides trade a pair of scores before Antrim had their first big goal chance on 43 minutes as a good move saw Creggan's Ruairi McCann in on the left, but Ian Duffy saved brilliantly with his legs despite the hosts' appeals for a foot block falling on deaf ears.

Dunne extended the Offaly advantage back to eight at the other end from a free, but then came the Antrim surge with McCann again with a changc as he raced in, but his shot went high and was waved wide despite protests it had gone over.

Antrim were now running at Offaly and getting joy as McCann fed his Aghagallon namesake to begin a run of four points on the spin to halve the deficit.

A goal is what Antrim needed and they had two massive chances with Odhran Eastwood denied at the near post by Duffy on 70 minutes and then seconds later, a move through the hands saw the ball squared with Patrick Finnegan just needing to palm home, but the ball was cleared off the line by Rory Egan. They did get a point through Patrick McBride to leave a goal in it, but Antrim would be made to pay for their misses as Offaly again disrupted the home kick-out and a probing ball saw substitute Bernard Allen win the race to pop over Antrim goalkeeper Mick Byrne and into the net to seal the points for the Faithful.

Scorers for Antrim: R Murray 0-3 (3f), D McEnhill 0-2 (1f), R McCann (Aghagallon) 0-2, R McCann (Creggan) 0-1 (f), P Shivers 0-1, J McAuley 0-1, P McBride 0-1, C Stewart 0-1. 

Scorers for Offaly: D Hyland 0-4 (2f), R McNamee 1-1, B Allen 1-0, A Sullivan 0-3, N Dunne 0-2 (both frees), J Maher 0-1, P Cunningham 0-1.

ANTRIM: Mick Byrne; Peter Healy, Declan Lynch, James McAuley; Dermott McAleese, Jospeh Finnegan, Marc Jordan; Jack Dowling, Conor Stewart; Patrick McBride, Ryan Murray, Colum Duffin; Pat Shivers, Ruairi McCann (Creggan), Dominic McEnhill. 

Subs: Ruairi McCann (Aghagallon) for D McEnhill (HT), Kevin Small for J Dowling (HT), Patrick Finnegan for C Duffin (49), Odhran Eastwood for R McCann (Creggan, 58), Padraig Mervyn for J Finnegan (65).

OFFALY: Ian Duffy; Cian Donohoe, Declan Hogan, David Dempsey; Rory Egan, Peter Cunningham, Lee Pearson; Jack McEvoy, Conor McNamee; Joe Maher, Ruairi McNamee, Shane O'Toole-Greene; Nigel Dunne, Anton Sullivan, Declan Hyland. 

Subs: Bernard Allen for S O'Toole-Greene (HT), Cian Farrell for N Dunne (48), Luke Egan for J Maher (63), Jack Bryant for D Hyland (70+2), Aaron Brazil for C Donohoe (70+3). 

REFEREE: Conor Dourneen (Cavan).

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