Dublin 1-15 Offaly 2-25: Kevin Martin reckons resurgent Offaly can be ‘quietly confident’ of keeping their winning run going at the expense of old rivals Limerick.
Ex-All-Ireland winner Martin enjoyed a thrilling start to his competitive reign on Saturday with Shane Dooley’s 1-5, on the occasion of his 100th Offaly appearance, sealing a shock 13-point win against their Dublin hosts.
Pat Gilroy was clearly experimenting in his first league game in charge of Dublin, handing first spring starts to eight players while ex-All-Stars Liam Rushe, Peter Kelly and Danny Sutcliffe were missing.
It was Offaly’s biggest win in the league since hammering Antrim in 2014 and their most impressive since taking down Limerick in 2015.
They play the Shannonsiders again next weekend, in Tullamore, and can be optimistic having also drawn with Limerick in 2014 and ran them to within four points last year.
Martin, a two-times All-Ireland winner with Offaly in the 1990s, said: “There’s optimism around the county, they know the boys are training hard. And I have to say, when they got a sniff that we could really win, they did push on. It’s confidence, we just can’t bring in confidence and that’s what they’ve been lacking the last couple of years. It’s a work in progress. I don’t want to get carried away, we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground, it is only the league at the end of the day. It’s the buildup to the Championship ultimately.”
Martin had more of his established players in action than Gilroy though Joe Bergin was still rested at half-time, making way for Dooley, while Cillian Kiely and captain Sean Ryan didn’t feature at all.
Martin is working off a 37-man panel and said confidence is high, pointing to the belief shown by a number of players who picked off eye catching long-range scores to easily overcome Dublin.
“Damien Egan got a couple of long-range ones, Dan Currams got a cracking one, Dermot Shortt went up the field and got one,” continued Martin. “They’re starting to grow and they’re starting to believe in their ability. It’s only the first game but it’s important for them to get that confidence because we know they can hurl.”
Gilroy was fuming with his new look team. He handed first league starts to players in all sectors of the field including four up front but maintained they still should have been much better.
“Our intensity was probably half of what we intended to bring to the game,” said Gilroy, Dublin’s All-Ireland winning football manager in 2011. “Our movement of the ball was poor and pretty much everything that we set out to do in the game, we didn’t do. We delivered for a small patch in the first-half and maybe for a few minutes in the second-half.
“But that’s nowhere near good enough.”
Gilroy, who was without his Cuala contingent, said there were some positives from the outing that marked the first league starts of defenders Bill O’Carroll, Cian Hendricken and Cian McBride, midfielder Tomas Connolly and attackers Fergal Whitely, Ronan Smith, Alan Moore and Paul Winters.
John Divilly and Anthony Daly review the opening weekend of the Allianz League:
Scorers for Offaly:
S. Dooley (1-5, 1-0pen, 5 frees); J. Bergin (0-6, 6 frees); L. Langton (1-0); C. Egan, S. Kinsella, O. Kelly (1 s/l) (0-3 each); D. Currams, D. Egan (0-2 each); D. Shortt (0-1).
Scorers for Dublin:
D. Burke (0-6, 5 frees); P Winters (1-1); A. Moore (0-2); C. Crummey, F. Whitely, E. Dillon, N. McMorrow, J. Hetherton, R. Smith (0-1 each).
C. Slevin; T. Spain, S. Gardiner, B. Conneely; P. Delaney, P. Camon, D. Shortt; D. King, S. Kinsella; J. Bergin, C. Egan, D. Egan; O. Kelly, C. Mahon, D. Currams.
S. Dooley for Bergin (h/t); T. Geraghty for C Egan (53); L. Langton for Mahon (63); D. O’Toole for Conneely (71); D. Doughan for Delaney (73).
A. Nolan; P. Smyth, B. O’Carroll, C. Hendricken; S. Barrett, C. McBride, C. Crummey; J. McCaffrey, T. Connolly; R. Smith, F. Whitely, D. Burke; A. Moore, P. Winters, F. O Riain Broin.
E. Dillon for O Riain Broin (24); D. Kelly for McBride (35-h/t); N. McMorrow for McCaffrey (43); C. Keaney for Moore (47); J. Hetherton for Winters (54); J. Madden for Hendricken (66).
P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved