Allianz FL Division 3: Derry and Offaly secure promotion, Cavan and Tipp relegated
Allianz Football League Division Three results
Offaly 1-14 Fermanagh 0-12
Derry 0-17 Limerick 0-13
Wicklow 3-11 Cavan 0-18
Longford 1-13 Tipperary 0-9
Offaly and Derry both made it four wins out of four in the Allianz League this year as they secured promotion at the expense of Fermanagh and Limerick in Saturday evening's games, while it was catastrophe for the reigning Ulster and Munster football champions as Longford and Wicklow picked up sensational victories in the two relegation playoffs.
The Faithful County were in splendid for in the first half of their clash with Fermanagh in Tullamore, building up a 0-10 to 0-4 lead that could have been even more. Cian Farrell shot five first half points after Anton Sullivan got them out to a great start by splitting the posts with three consecutive strikes from out on the left wing, while Peter Cunningham struck the foot of the post and several other scorable chances went astray.
Fermanagh seemed ponderous in possession, lacking ideas outside of simply trying to draw frees in a scorable area, with Darragh McGurn and Ciarán Corrigan their only scorers from play in the half.
A second yellow card for Eoin Donnelly shortly before half-time seemed to cement Offaly’s advantage, but that never showed on the field as Fermanagh pushed goalkeeper Seán McNally into a quasi-outfield role, and gradually they started to take advantage of Offaly’s nerves. Seán Quigley, McGurn and Stephen McGullion were all on target from long distance as they drew to within two points by the 66th minute.
Offaly had been held scoreless in the final quarter up until the last meaningful attack, when Niall McNamee broke up a short kickout and then fed Mark Abbott for the game’s only goal.
Derry also found it difficult to produce the sumptuous attacking football that they had delivered so far this season when they took on a stubborn Limerick outfit in Carrick-on-Shannon yesterday. Hugh Bourke fired three early points as Limerick had the better of the first quarter, aided by a black card for Emmett Bradley and a couple of missed goal
Derry remained in charge for the second quarter but again, failed to turn possession into scores despite Heron and McGuigan (2) putting them into a 0-08 to 0-05 lead with 14 men. Derry and Loughlin also saw another goal chance missed when the Greenlough forward did well to break two tackles and get himself through on goal only to see his low shot saved by the feet of O'Sullivan.
Benny Heron and Shane McGuigan were on target as Derry seemed to finally find some form to move 0-8 to 0-7 clear, but Danny Neville and Bourke replied to cut the gap to the bare minimum at half time.
A Paul Cassidy point in between a couple of dead ball scores pushed Derry four points clear early in the second half and from then on it was a tense, tit-for-tat affair with Limerick staying in touch but never really threatening to pull off an upset.
The shock of the day was in Navan, where Ulster champions Cavan were rocked by a first half goal from Wicklow's Patrick O'Connor and then two second half majors from Sean Furlong, thus condemning them to Division Four football next year.
A 1-5 to 0-7 half-time lead was the least that Wicklow deserved and they led by six after Furlong's goals in the 40th and 50th minute, but Cavan came roaring back with a string of scores, led by Thomas Galligan at midfield and nicely balanced attacking unit. They couldn't quite get on terms however, and substitute Christopher O'Brien and goalkeeper Mark Jackson kicked late points that were just about enough to give Wicklow a memorable win.
Tipperary were always expected to have their hands full with a Longford side that had showed great progression through this short Allianz League campaign, but few could have imagined the manner in which they collapsed in the last 20 minutes at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park this afternoon.
A strong breeze blew in Longford's favour in the first half and Padraic Davis' men did have the better of the game, though they struggled to make it count on the scoreboard. Darren Gallagher, Joseph Hagan and Dessie Reynolds kicked two points each for the home side, but four frees from Conor Sweeney meant it was finely poised at 0-7 to 0-5 at half time.
With Michael Quinlivan back on the field following his black card in the first half and the wind now in their favour, Tipp drew level through good scores from Padraic Looram and Kevin Fahey, and looked good to kick on. Instead Longford struck a vital blow when an inch-perfect pass from Rian Brady picked out Reynolds, and the wing back fired the ball under Evan Comerford for the game's only goal. Longford went on to monopolise possession and kick the next four scores of the game, suffocating the Tipperary attack completely - to the point that by the final whistle, no Tipperary attacker had scored from play.