Tipp relegated after defeat to Offaly

GAA: Allianz National Football League Division 3 Round 6


Offaly 2-14

Report: Michael Dundon at FBD Semple Stadium


Player of the Match: Stephen Quirke (Tipperary)

SCORERS – Tipperary: Jack Kennedy (2 frees), Stephen Quirke 0-3 each; Michael O’Reilly (frees), Mark Russell 0-2 each; Cathal Deeley, Mikey O’Shea, Conor Cadell 0-1 each.

Offaly: Ruairi McNamee 1-3; Nigel Dunne (1 free), Dylan Hyland (2 frees) 0-4 each; Anton Sullivan 1-1; Joe Maher, Bernard Allen 0-1 each.

Tipperary’s short-lived National Football League Division 3 campaign ended at FBD Semple Stadium on Saturday when Offaly hit them with two injury time goals to keep their own promotion hopes on track.

With Antrim having beaten Cavan, this was a game Tipp had to win to give themselves a chance of survival and to their credit they gave it a right good shot, but fortune has not been kind to them since day one, and things did not change here.

Absentees and injuries have bedevilled David Power’s hand as he strove to consolidate Tipp’s division 3 status with key figures like Conor Sweeney and Steven O’Brien missing through injury, and Teddy Doyle joined the wounded just before half-time, a big loss as he had been doing very well.

Tipp had been doing very well up till then and creating chances but at the break Offaly were ahead 0-9 to 0-7, having had the breeze in their favour.

A bright opening saw Tipp go 0-3 to 0-1 clear in thirteen minutes but then Offaly responded with four unanswered points in the next nine minutes for a lead (0-5 to 0-3) they never surrendered.

Stephen Quirke was a big threat in the Tipp full forward line and a brace of points from him got Tipp back level by the 31st minute but Offaly then hit three points in rapid succession, with Cathal Deeley having the final say for Tipp, a point, to leave the home county 0-7 to 0-9 adrift at the break.

With the breeze to aid them in the second half, Tipp were well placed to achieve a first win in the campaign, but Offaly kept them at arm’s length. A Sean O’Connor blast for a goal in the 51st minute, with Tipp 0-9 to 0-12 behind, was well saved by the Offaly goalie Ian Duffy. A goal then and who knows what might have followed.

Mark Russell came on and made an impact with two points as Tipp cut the deficit to a point, 0-14 to 0-13, by the 66th minute. Liam McGrath was bearing down on the Offaly goal in the 66th minute when he was unceremoniously stopped in his tracks. A black card for the offending Offaly player looked inevitable but referee James Molloy opted for yellow and Jack Kennedy pointed the free for the 13th point.

Two minutes later, Liam McGrath body-checked an Offaly player just inside his own half but this time the referee flashed a black card for what certainly seemed a more minor offence than that inflicted on McGrath moments earlier. It left Tipp a man short as they sought to draw level – a crucial decision at that stage of the game.

With the game drifting into injury time Tipp threw everything into attack with goalkeeper Michael O’Reilly operating as an extra outfield player to compensate for McGrath’s removal. The Commercial’s man had a chance to level from a long-range free but was off target. Cue an Offaly break, and with O’Reilly well off his line, Ruairi McNamee kicked into the empty net in the 73rd minute.

A minute later, Anton Sullivan notched Offaly’s second goal in similar circumstances to send Tipp down to the basement division even before they play their last game against Westmeath.

It was a hugely disappointing outcome for Tipp but entirely in keeping with the way this campaign has gone. Stephen Quirke’s first half showing with three points from play was eye-catching while Kevin Fahey, Emmet Moloney, Jimmy Feehan, and Michael O’Reilly all did their utmost to tip the scales in Tipp’s favour, with Mark Russell also impressive when introduced.

All six Offaly forwards scored and they looked more dangerous all through with Ruairi McNamee, Nigel Dunne and Dylan Hyland to the fore. Further back Peter Cunningham and Declan Hogan backboned a solid defence.

TEAMS - Tipperary: Michael O’Reilly (Clonmel Commercials 7); Shane O’Connell (Golden-Kilfeacle 6), Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule 6), Keith Ryan (Upperchurch/Drombane 6); Emmet Moloney (Drom & Inch 7), Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Commercials 7), Colm O’Shaughnessy (Ardfinnan 6); Paidi Feehan (Killenaule 6), Jack Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials 7); Conor Cadell (JK Brackens 6), Cathal Deeley (Clonmel Commercials 6), Teddy Doyle (Ballina 6); Mikey O’Shea (Mullinahone 6), Stephen Quirke (Moyle Rovers 8), Sean O’Connor (Clonmel Commercials 6).

Subs: Donough Leahy (Arravale Rovers 6) for Doyle (38 inj), Mark Russell (Aherlow Gaels 7) for Cadell (43), Liam McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney 6) for P Feehan (56), Mark Stokes (Kilsheelan/Kilcash 6) for O’Shea (61).

Offaly: Ian Duffy (6); Lee Pearson (6), Declan Hogan (7), David Dempsey (6); Rory Egan (6), Peter Cunningham(7), Cian Donohoe (6); Jack McEvoy (6), Conor McNamee (6); Joe Maher (6), Ruairi McNamee (8), Nigel Dunne (7); Bernard Allen (6), Anton Sullivan (7), Dylan Hyland (7).

Subs: Luke Egan (6) for Maher (48); Jack Bryant (6) for Dunne (56); Cian Farrell (NR) for Allen (66).

Referee: James Molloy (Galway)