Bernard Allen came off the bench to score five crucial points for Offaly in their low-scoring win over Fermanagh at Glenisk O'Connor Park.
Bernard Allen came off the bench to score five crucial points for Offaly in their low-scoring win over Fermanagh at Glenisk O'Connor Park.

Allianz FL D3: Cavan, Down, Offaly top the table



Offaly 1-9 Fermanagh 1-8

Cavan 1-19 Tipperary 1-7

Westmeath 4-16 Longford 0-9

Down 2-18 Antrim 2-17

Westmeath bounced back from their opening round defeat to Cavan in fine style this afternoon at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, as they produced a devastating second half once they turned around to play with the wind, outscoring their hosts by 4-10 to 0-1 in that period.

It was a crushing defeat for Longford that looked incredibly unlikely late in the first half, when three Dessie Reynolds points helped the home side to lead by four points. Westmeath picked off three crucial scores before the interval however, before really exploding into life in the second half. Luke Loughlin, Lorcan Dolan, John Heslin and Sam McCartan fired in the goals, while Longford’s cause wasn’t made any easier as they had to finish the game with 13 men due to the dismissals of David McGivney and Andrew Farrell.

Just up the road in Kingspan Breffni, Cavan made light work of Tipperary to cement their status as the early front runners in this Division, despite conceding an early goal to Seán O’Connor and falling four points behind.

Dara McVeety was the star man on show as he kicked three eye-catching first-half points from centre half-back, while Oisín Brady nudged Cavan in front with the fourth of his seven points on the afternoon, and they never looked back.

Ryan O’Neill reacted well to a rebound off the upright to give Cavan control of the tie, and they led by 1-10 to 1-4 at half-time. The second half was unspectacular, as Tipperary offered very little up front in the absence of team captain Conor Sweeney, and they leaned heavily on Jack Kennedy’s free-taking to keep the scoreboard moving. On the Cavan side, a two-score cameo from Brandon Boylan off the bench gave food for thought to manager Mickey Graham, with a host of key men still to return for the county.

There was certainly no landslide at Glenisk O’Connor Park, but there were heroics off the bench for the home side, with Bernard Allen’s 0-5 in the second half putting Offaly in the position where another sub, SETU Carlow student Cian Farrell, was able to snatch the game-winner in stoppage time.

A forgettable first half ended 1-1 apiece, with Rúairí McNamee and Josh Largo Ellis the goalscorers, but things picked up considerably in the second period, largely due to Allen catching fire for the home side, while Garvan Jones also caught the eye with three good points in his 25 minutes on the pitch.

Without doubt the tie of the round, and possibly the tie of the weekend across both codes, was played at Páirc Esler in Newry last night, where Conor Poland’s goal and then late points from Pat Havern and Andrew Gilmore kept the feelgood feeling going for the Mourne County in 2023.

It was the second narrow escape for Down in two weeks, while Antrim will feel that they deserved to take something from this tie after putting in a much more consistent performance than they mustered in their opening round clash with Offaly at Corrigan Park.

Rúairí McCann (the Aghagallon man at full forward, as opposed to his Creggan Kickhams namesake who lined out on the wing) found two early goals either side of one for Gilmore for Down, to give Antrim a narrow 2-8 to 1-9 interval lead.

They stretched that in the second half, with Dominic McEnhill playing a key role after he came off the bench to kick three points in the period, but despite keeping Down at bay right up until the closing minutes, it was to be yet more heartbreak for the Saffrons, and a huge win for the home side.