Minor Hurling QF - Offaly 1-5 Dublin 0-14

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Lone Shark
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Minor Hurling QF - Offaly 1-5 Dublin 0-14

Post by Lone Shark » Mon May 09, 2005 9:36 am

After giving Offaly supporters good cause for optimism throughout the group stages, this minor team took the field in Birr carrying the weight of expectation on their shoulders. An eleven point win over Dublin in the group game - albeit forged with the not inconsiderable assistance of Joe Bergin at centre back and Mark Quinlan at full back – meant that they went into this match as overwhelming favourites.

In hindsight, that match came back to haunt Offaly on two levels. Dublin took the field in a very fired up fashion, and were clearly out to prove that the result of three weeks ago was an anomaly. Joe Bergin’s late red card in that match also robbed Offaly of their centre back and talisman, and although Diarmuid Horan filled in very well in the number six jersey, it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul as his presence was sorely missed in a half forward line that completely misfired, and failed to give the danger men inside anything like the kind of possession needed to run up a decent score.

From the throw in, and facing into a strong breeze, Dublin looked nothing like the side that surrendered meekly at this very venue previously. Their half backs and midfield set an early platform of dominance, a pattern that Offaly never looked like upsetting throughout the game. They registered the first score, through a Kevin O’Reilly free, and for the first ten minutes never looked like conceding a score. A late tackle on ten minutes gave Colm Coughlan an easy opportunity to get the team off the mark, which he duly took, and this was followed by another fine long range free a couple of minutes later. Offaly weren’t to score again until there were three minutes remaining in the half, as Dublin swallowed up all long ball delivered at them and were closing down every breaking ball ferociously. Offaly weren’t even mustering wides during this time – the forwards were just unable to win any kind of 50/50 ball, and when they did secure possession, the Dublin backs ushered them towards the corners, where their attempts at crossfield balls etc. were mopped up. It is to the credit of the Offaly back line, who to a man were outstanding throughout this game, that Dublin were not further ahead when they finally broke this duck. The scores were at 0-4 to 0-2 when a scramble in the goals led to Colm Coughlan striking a ground shot to the net and putting Offaly in front. When Gary Kelly put over a great point almost instantly, you felt that a little bit of momentum and Offaly could have put up the four or five point lead that was going to be necessary facing into that stiff breeze in the second half. A crucial moment followed when from the resulting puckout, Derek Molloy fielded well, but delayed his strike, and in the end was called for overcarrying. From the resultant possession Tomás Brady came up the field to put over a fantastic score to reduce the deficit, and turn the tide again. Another Coughlan free made it two again, but great scores from Kevin O’Reilly from the left hand side left the sides tied at the break, 1-4 to 0-7.

With the aid of the wind to come, Dublin were now hot favourites, and for Offaly to try to put them under pressure, they needed to prevent Dublin from hitting the front for as long as possible. For the first ten minutes of the second half, the backs were particularly heroic. Conor Hernon and Stephen Egan were tenacious and tight but still fair, and Horan and Brian Watkins in particular cleared a mountain of ball. However there was no sign of the forwards being able to utilise any of it, as again they failed to engineer a shot, let alone a score. Keith Dunne and Tomás Brady in the Dublin half back line were utterly imperious, and Joey Boland and John McCaffrey swept up any amount of breaks and played good ball into their forwards. Slowly the scores started to come. Three in succession were taken between the 40th and 45th minutes, when Colm Coughlan put over a free for Offaly’s only score of the period. Defending again was the order of the day, but irrespective of the combinations tried up front, no-one seemed able to ruffle the Dublin defence. Dublin finished very strongly, and would only have gone on further had the game continued.

This was a very disappointing performance, but taking an objective look, you couldn’t say that the result was anything but fair. Offaly’s supposed match winners, Coughlan and Nolan never managed to free them selves of the shackles of their markers throughout the game, and with Horan back in the backs, Bergin’s long range free taking not an option, and the half forward line completely anonymous, running up a decent scoreline always looked beyond this Offaly team. The back seven can take no blame for this defeat, they were largely on top, though Darragh Coughlan did tire towards the end, having had the tough job of marking O’Reilly throughout the game, but the midfield and half forwards, the work horses of any modern hurling team, clearly were not able for the task at hand, and as such will be the players who’ll feel this defeat more keenly.
As I type, a league final in Portlaois beckons, so onwards and upwards. But for another Offaly underage team, it’s nothing but an early exit.

Offaly: Devon Beale; Conor Hernon, James Corrigan,, Stephen Egan; Darragh Coughlan, Diarmuid Horan, Brian Watkins (Captain);Derek Molloy, Jason Whelehan; Brian Leonard, Mark Bevans, Gary Kelly (0-1); Brian Nolan, Ciaran Flannery, Colm Coughlan (1-4, 4 frees).
Subs: Daniel Currams for Mark Bevans, Ger Treacy for Jason Whelehan, John Cashin for Brian Leonard, Conor Mahon for Gary Kelly.

Dublin: Conor McCormack; Ronan Drumgoole, Peter Callaghan, Eoin Walsh; Keith Dunne, Tomás Brady (0-1), Conor Connolly; Joey Boland (0-2), John McCaffrey (0-2, 2 frees); Kevin O’Reilly (0-5, 2 frees), Ciarán Twomey (0-2), Shane Durkin (0-1); Shane O’Rourke, Declan O’Dwyer, Joey Maher (0-1).

Referee: F Devereaux (Kildare)


Devon Beale – CRC Gaels
Conor Hernon, James Corrigan, Jason Whelehan, Diarmuid Horan, Ciaran Flannery, Gary Kelly – St. Rynagh’s
Brian Watkins, Brian Nolan – Birr
Stephen Egan – Tullamore
Ger Treacy – St. Vincent’s
Darragh Coughlan – Seir Kieran
Conor Mahon, Brian Leonard, Daniel Currams – Kilcormac/Killoughey
Mark Bevans – Shinrone
Derek Molloy – Shamrocks
Colm Coughlan – Kinnitty
John Cashin - Drumcullen

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