David Nally's first half goal gave Offaly early breathing room this afternoon in Tullamore.
David Nally's first half goal gave Offaly early breathing room this afternoon in Tullamore.

Joe McDonagh Cup: Offaly get back on track

Joe McDonagh Cup

OFFALY 2-22 MEATH 0-19

By Kevin Egan at O’Connor Park

It wasn’t a game that will live long in the memory, but Offaly won’t mind that as they picked up their first win of this year’s Joe McDonagh campaign at the expense of Meath this afternoon.

The contest never really gathered any huge momentum both sides struggled to get to grips with the new interpretation of the handpass rule, but what little fluid hurling was seen at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park was in the first half, when Offaly laid the foundations for their win through goals from Bellmont club colleagues David Nally and Leon Fox.

A deceptively strong wind blew at the backs of the home side for the opening 35 minutes but it was Meath, who were looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat to Carlow last week, that settled better. An excellent point from Éamon Ó Donnchadha opened the scoring and they would have been the happier team after ten minutes, when both teams had just two points on the board.

Offaly finally found some form from there and began to use the breeze, with Fox, Nally, Joey Keenaghan and Adrian Cleary all firing over good scores, before Nally got in between two Meath defenders to whip the game’s first goal past Charlie Ennis.

A strong run and good low finish from Fox made it 2-8 to 0-4 after 25 minutes and it seemed as if the Royal County might sustain a second heavy defeat in a row, but their strong performance under their own puckout kept them in the game.

Jack Regan shot eight of his finally tally of twelve frees (0-14 in total) in the opening 35 minutes, as Meath went into the dressing room 2-14 to 0-10 behind with the wind set to favour them.

An altercation between groups of players from both sides just as the teams came out of the dressing room led to a straight red card for Meath full-back Shane Brennan before the second half got underway, and that incident probably ruled out any faint hopes that Nick Weir’s side might have entertained.

In a second half that was absolutely littered with frees and stoppages, Meath edged proceedings by a single point, scoring four in succession at one stage late in the game.

Brian Duignan and John Murphy tried to add some life to the Offaly attack and they contributed three points off the bench, but overall it was a case of simply holding onto the lead and putting last week’s defeat behind them for the Faithful men.

Scorers for Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 0-9 (0-5f), David Nally 1-2 (0-1f), Leon Fox 1-1, Adrian Cleary 0-3, Jason Sampson & Brian Duignan 0-2 each, Joey Keenaghan, Killian Sampson & John Murphy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Meath: Jack Regan 0-14 (0-12f), Éamon Ó Donnchadha 0-2, David Reilly, Mark O’Sullivan, Pádraig O’Hanrahan 0-1 each.

Offaly: Stephen Corcoran; Padraig Cantwell, Ciarán Burke, David King; Jack Screeney, Ben Conneely, Eimhin Kelly; Leon Fox, Joey Keenaghan; Killian Sampson, Eoghan Cahill, Adrian Cleary; David Nally, Jason Sampson, Paddy Clancy.

Subs: Eoghan Parlon for Cantwell (half-time), Ross Ravenhill for Keenaghan (half-time), John Murphy for Cahill (36, temp), John Murphy for Clancy (51), Brian Duignan for A Cleary (56), Seán Cleary for Nally (70+1).

Meath: Charlie Ennis; Seán Geraghty, Shane Brennan, Brendan McKeon; Stephen Morris, Damien Healy, James Kelly; Pádraig O’Hanrahan, David Reilly; Jack Walsh, Nicholas Potterton, Mark O’Sullivan; Mickey Cole, Jack Regan, Éamon Ó Donnchadha.

Subs: Ger Murphy for Walsh (35+3, temp), Ger Murphy for McKeon (51), Justin Coyne for Potterton (52), Patrick Potterton for Reilly (55), Trevor Healy for Morris (64), Chris Reilly for Walsh (70+1).

*Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary) *