Disjointed Offaly Fail To Impress As Louth Stay Top
Thursday, 2 March 2017
IT was another frustrating afternoon for the Offaly footballers and management as they missed out on the chance to knock Louth off their perch. The Louth men continue to lead Division Three of the National Football league after their five point win over Offaly maintained their 100 percent start to the league after three games.
For Offaly, it is two defeats and one win as Pat Flanagan and his management team endured one of those days were very little seemed to go right.
In terms of endeavour and effort, Offaly couldn't be faulted but basic errors and a lack of attacking instinct hurt Offaly on the day as they now face down the barrel of games with Armagh, Sligo, Tipperary and Laois.
Playing against the wind in the opening half, Colin Kelly's charges hit the net twice in the opening 35 minutes with a brace from U-21 player Ryan Burns to give them a 2-5 to 0-7 half time lead.
With conditions tough, both sides played their best football against the elements but the four point half time buffer having played against the elements was a massive fillip for the Louth men.
Offaly had a kick in them in the second half but despite Nigel Dunne and Bernard Allen standing out, they couldn't muster a goal to really get them back into it. Louth maintained a cushion right throughout the second half and with Declan Byrne excellent in the middle of the field, Louth kicked some super scores from distance to see out the game and move on to a home clash with Antrim next weekend.
With the elements behind them, Offaly set about getting off the mark but a low scoring opening six minutes only yielded two points to the home side with Bernard Allen (free) and Nigel Dunne opening their accounts.
Louth were not sitting back and seemed happy enough to play against the wind and put the ball through the phases. Ryan Burns landed a free on 11 minutes to open their scoring but Offaly tagged on two more points by the 20th minute through Allen and Dunne yet again.
A minute later and Louth struck for their opening goal through Ryan Burns to draw themselves level and sting Offaly. Burns and Nigel Dunne exchanged frees before a superb left footed effort from Dunne sent Offaly back into the lead 0-6 to 1-2 after 26 minutes.
Pauric Smith got Louth level before a long ball in from Derek Maguire saw the Offaly defence tune out and Burns was quickest to react to the breaking ball to crash it to the net for his and Louth's second goal. Smith then landed his second point and with half time imminent, Louth led 2-4 to 0-6.
Eoin Carroll and Burns traded scores before the half time whistle as Louth held a four point lead having played against the breeze.
Offaly pushed hard the second half but every time they got close, Louth were able to come down the field and tag on a score. 10 minutes into the second half, the gap was down to two points 2-6 to 0-10 but just as Offaly looked like turning the tide, Louth came down the field and put three between them again.
Eoin Carroll had a glorious chance for a goal but his shot was blocked by the Louth netminder before a free was conceded and Dunne tapped over the free.
Offaly did have the ball in the net on 51 minutes but to be fair, the referee had the whistle blown for a free in even if there was maybe an advantage to be played. What looked like a routine 21 metre free was missed by Bernard Allen and instead of a two point game, Louth came down the field with the next attack and landed a point through Tommy Durnin to put them four points up.
Points were exchanged for a period and with 10 minutes to go, Louth still led 2-11 to 0-13. Nigel Dunne landed another free on 66 minutes but Louth kicked the two points to see them home by five points.
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