Allianz HL Division 1B
Kerry 2-16 Offaly 1-21
Offaly booked an Allianz HL quarter-final place, holding on against 14-man Kerry in a hard-fought Division 1B contest played in ideal conditions at Austin Stack Park, Tralee.
The sending-off of Kerry’s sweeper John Buckley on the stroke of half-time proved crucial and it was very much a case of might have been for Kingdom boss Fintan O’Connor.
“It did prove critical,” O’Connor said. “I suppose it was always going to be game of tight margins and you would be hoping not to lose a man. John was a little bit unlucky. I didn’t see the first yellow and while the second was
"I didn’t see the first yellow and while the second was a yellow in fairness to the referee, he had no choice but to send him off. I thought we battled well but because they had the extra man we probably conceded every puck-out in the second half which was probably giving them an in into the game and cost us, but look we are hugely disappointed.”
Kerry had 13 wides to Offaly’s six in the first half with Offaly firing over long-range points from Ben Connelly, Peter Geraghty and David King allied to some accurate freetaking by Shane Dooley. Despite facing a stiff wind, Kerry were just two points adrift at half-time, thanks to 1-3 from outstanding full-forward Padraig Boyle and the freetaking of Shane Nolan.
Despite being a man short in the second half, they outscored Offaly but shot seven wides and had a goalbound effort from Jordan Conway saved by the Offaly defence at a crucial juncture. Using all their experience, Offaly got vital scores when it mattered with Sean Cleary (2) and Emmett Nolan (1) firing over points while team captain Sean Ryan led by example.
Offaly got a vital goal from Stephen Quirke in the 54th minute when they were hanging onto a one-point lead.
But despite a late Shane Nolan goal, three bad wides ultimately cost Kerry dear.
“Thirteen wides are too many in any game but especially when you are a man down and they were probably trying too hard,” O’Connor reflected. “Offaly were a good side and we have to just pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down next week against Laois. Hopefully we will be able to get the result next weekend which will be a reward for the effort they are putting in.”
Scorers for Offaly:
S Dooley (0-6, 5 frees), C Kiely (0-5, 2 frees), S Cleary (0-4), S Quirke (1-0), D King and E Nolan (0-2 each), B Conneely and P Geraghty (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerry:
S Nolan (1-6, 5 frees, 1 65), P Boyle (1-5), B Murphy, P O’Connor, C Harty, J Conway and K Carmody (0-1 each).
M Stackpoole; J O’Connor, T Murnane, S Weir; D Collins, B Murphy, D Dineen; P O’Connor, J Goulding; S Nolan, P Kelly, C Harty; J Conway, P Boyle, J Buckley.
M O’Leary for P Kelly (47), B O’Leary for C Harty (56), K Carmody for J Goulding (56), T Casey for P O’Connor (64)
J Dempsey; P Rigney, M Cleary, B Conneely; P Geraghty, D Shortt, S Gardiner; A Treacy, D King; S Ryan, S Dooley, O Kelly; S Cleary, C Kiely, E Nolan.
E Grogan for S Gardiner (28), P Murphy for B Conneely (43), S Quirke for S Dooley (43), J Mulrooney for P Geraghty (51), P Camon for E Nolan (65).
S Cleere (Kilkenny)
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