Sports

Qualifiers beckon for Offaly footballers and hurlers after shattering defeats

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Qualifiers beckon for Offaly footballers and hurlers after shattering defeats thumbnailA disappointed Sean Gardiner pictured after Offaly's defeat to Galway, Sunday last. OH25-2-20777

THE 'fat lady' is warming up for bringing the curtain down on Offaly's inter-season after demoralising defeats for the footballers and hurlers last weekend.
After missing a golden chance of progress in the first game in O'Connor Park, Offaly travelled to Mullingar in an optimistic frame of mind for their Leinster Senior Football Championship quarter-final replay against Westmeath but it didn't happen for them on the day as they were resoundingly beaten by 3-17 to 0-15.
Portlaoise was the venue for the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final on Sunday and while Offaly were never going to upset All-Ireland favourites Galway, they still shipped a heavy beating as they lost out by 0-33 to 1-11.
It was a thought provoking weekend for Offaly and the football defeat on Saturday was especially disappointing as they had decent prospects of advancing to a semi-final meeting with All-Ireland champions, Dublin.
While the final score line was harsh on Offaly, they were not good enough on the day as they failed to generate the right levels of energy and momentum. Offaly were not as defensive minded as the first day but they still found life difficult against a vastly improved Westmeath side, for whom star forward, John Heslin was outstanding.
Offaly trailed by 0-9 to 0-5 after a very subdued first half but played better in the second half. They had the gap back to two points on three different occasions but a 54th minute goal from sub, John Egan gave Westmeath a 1-13 to 0-11 lead before they went six clear.
Offaly dug deep to get it back to three points but then lost defender, Cian Donoghue to a second yellow card eight minutes from time and Westmeath took full advantage as the visitor's morale flagged to run in two further goals and run out comprehensive winners.
The hurlers made a dream start with an early Oisin Kelly goal but that was the high point of their afternoon. With Paddy Murphy and Shane Kinsella playing as extra defenders, Offaly tried to stem the tide and had their chances to be closer before going in at the break, trailing by 0-16 to 1-6.
In the second half, as Offaly tried to attack the game, Galway opened up full throttle and outscored them by 0-17 to 0-5 for the most convincing of wins.
Both sides are now in the last chance saloon. Offaly footballers welcome Cavan to Tullamore on Sunday evening next for their first round qualifier game and are underdogs while the hurlers await news of their opponents for their qualifier game on the weekend of July 1/2. The draw will be made next Monday morning and Offaly can be drawn against Waterford, Tipperary, Limerick or the winners of Laois and Carlow - they will definitely be hoping to avoid Tipperary and Waterford.
See pages 66 and 67 for reports on Offaly's defeat by Westmeath and pages 62 and 63 for coverage of the hurling reversal against Galway.

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