Games like this are where real experience shines through (as opposed to just age). We don't have the experience of winning tight games with everything on the line like that. Sure, we've won a few close league games down the years, but that was the nearest thing to championship that you'll get and we had to be ten points the better team just to scrape through by one. The beauty of that is that you'd have to feel that there is real improvement to come, since stuff like that they will learn. The shot at the end looked over to me too, albeit you couldn't tell from the press box whether it curled in before or after crossing the dead ball line, but I've no sympathy for Laois - they scored a crucial point midway through the second half when either Guilfoyle or Carroll (can't remember which) made a wonderful mark from a kickout, looked to Nolan for the call, didn't get it and got turned over. Complete blank space moment from the referee, and no less crucial than Strong's shot at the end.
As for key moments that could so easily have been avoided, in the spirit of what I've mentioned above:
(1) For the first Laois goal: Mulhall looked for the short kickout, and didn't find one - fair enough. The ref was getting close to blowing for a throw up, so he just went long - and promptly put the ball down the right, on top of Niall Darby (not our biggest man) and three Laois men. Surely if he needed to panic, he could have at least gone to Eoin Carroll, or gone to where we had a numerically equal chance if nothing else? Panic stuff.
(2) All day long, we looked like scoring every time we went forward. I was hugely impressed in the first half - Panda was alone inside, Laois left three men back around him, so we said grand, carried it in and took some wonderful points from distance. Take what you're given, and make them think. It was only when we went ahead that we started the slower stuff in the corners, shuffling over and back, trying to run down the clock instead of win the game. We had the beating of them all day - keep going.
(3) The free at the end - I'm going to put a lot of this down to Stewart running in with a completely needless instruction to put it dead. Nigel Dunne had been outstanding all day in an understated way, didn't put a foot wrong. He had the range for that kick with ten yards to spare - why mess with his head? In the absence of McNamee, Dunne and Allen have become real leaders in the way they've played this Spring and he would have known to kick with conviction - truth be told, I'd have backed him to get it. No need to mess with lads' heads like that.
(4) Further to the mark not given, mentioned above. What annoyed me was that nobody went over and asked the question of Nolan when the play went dead, in a polite and respectful manner, why it wasn't given? He'd have brushed off the question and the asker, but it would have planted the seed of doubt in his mind - he would have known internally that he blackguarded Offaly, and the next dubious call would have gone our way, I'm not saying you go down the road of Rory Best or Richie McCaw, yabbering away in the ref's ear for the day, but be polite, be friendly, ask, and make him think.
(5) I'm delighted for Pat Flanagan, who I have great time for, and I think this was vindication of his leadership after a tough campaign with so many key men out. However it would be remiss not to point out the signal that was sent when John Moloney was sent on for Sean Doyle. It was a clear sign of retreat, which again did not suit. By all means replace Doyle if you want, but bring in Shane Tierney to keep the pressure on. Then bring on Moloney anyway, possibly for someone like Hanlon or Brazil, who put in a solid shift but had gone out of the game a bit. Overall we still don't use our subs enough - one enforced change in the first 60 minutes seems like a real lack of faith in your bench to me.
Overall however, that was a great win, and praise is fully merited for it.
kingscounty wrote:Carroll was my man of the match he was excellent
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Awesome stuff - his catch and quick reverse pass to set Nigel Dunne away for our opening goal was excellent in so many ways. I was lucky enough to be involved in a small role with the Offaly minors in 2011 and 2012 and I got to know most of those players. Eoin was a fine footballer then, but you wouldn't have said that he stood out from the rest of the pack, not in the same way that Peter Cunningham would have done at that age. But his drive and his edge to be as good as he can be stood out, so it's no coincidence that he, and Joey O'Connor who is cut from similar cloth, have become fixtures on this Offaly team. He's a joy to watch, and the closest thing we have to a modern day Ciarán McManus. Truly delighted for him.