Mixed fortunes for Offaly hurlers and footballers

Thursday, 1 March 2018

OFFALY senior hurlers and footballers encountered very different emotions as they played big games in a National Hurling and Football League double bill in Bord na Mona O'Connor Park last Sunday.

The hurlers booked their place in the quarter-finals of the National Hurling League with a fine 1-21 to 1-16 win over Laois in Division 1B. With Laois scoring five of the last six points, the win was even more comprehensive than the final score line suggests and for three quarters of the game, Offaly played really well.

They controlled the flow of the game and were in a strong position at half time when they went in ahead by 0-11 to 1-7, having played into the wind in the first half. It was a big result for Offaly, whose physicality and pace was too much for Laois.

It represented a significant further step forward in Kevin Martin's rebuilding project and in the wake of a memorable first round win over Dublin, it provided further evidence that they are moving in the right direction.

Offaly will play the second team in Division 1 in the quarter-finals - irrespective of how they fare against Antrim in their final group game in Birr next Sunday, Offaly will finish third in Division 1B. They can't catch Galway and Limerick and even if Dublin or Laois join them on four points, Offaly have won the head to head against them.

The quarter-finals will be either home or away - Offaly have had three home games and if they meet a county who has had two, then they will be away and if both have three, then a toss will decide venue.

Offaly footballers are in the middle of a desperate relegation battle. They suffered an anticipated defeat against Armagh to leave them pointless after four games and immersed in a dogfight with Wexford and Sligo. They simply must win their games against Wexford and Sligo if they are to avoid a return to Division 4 football.

They are away to Wexford next Sunday and that will tell a big tale. On Sunday, Offaly dug very deep as they lost by 1-15 to 1-9 but once again, that was no near good enough. While there was absolutely no comparison between Sunday and the 36 point mauling they endured in Armagh last year, Offaly never looked like winning this one.

See pages 62 and 63 for reports on the hurling win and a preview of the Antrim game next Sunday and see pages 60 and 61 for a report on the football defeat and a preview of Sunday's must win showdown in Wexford.


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