Offaly vs Meath minor League

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Lone Shark
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Offaly vs Meath minor League

Post by Lone Shark » Sun Feb 06, 2005 1:23 pm

(Played saturday - apologies for the local paper esque spiel)

After a good performance last week in Rosemount, where only a late 45 denied this Offaly minor team a win over Westmeath, they took the field yesterday in Walsh Island looking to build on that performance and get their first win in this Leinster Minor League campaign. Unfortunately the good ship Offaly ran aground on this particular Island, their hull breached by a goal in each half by a fine Meath team.

The ball wasn’t even thrown in, and the difficulty in this assignment for the Faithful lads was already obvious to the quite small crowd in attendance– as the players lined up against each other for the throw in, one couldn’t help but notice the size advantage that the visitors held in most areas of the pitch – particularly around midfield. Within a few minutes of the start, it was clear that Meath didn’t have to sacrifice pace or skill either to field such a big team, as they burst out of the blocks with an excellent display of running and ball movement.

After four minutes Willie Milner opened the scoring, and although Ross Connor replied with a fine turn and score for the Offaly men, within a further minute Meath had capitalised on their good start with a goal. A quick move down the field saw their captain, Ciarán Kelly, beat his own man, draw out Offaly’s last defender, and handpass across to Chris Carney, who slid the ball under the Offaly goalkeeper for the score. Indeed Offaly were lucky not to concede another almost straight away, some loose play in front of the posts saw the ball break to Robert Doherty, whose shot was wonderfully deflected over the bar for a point by Dean Bracken in goals. The visitor’s momentum continued however, as straight from the kickout Rory O’Connor made a glorious catch, one of many throughout the match by him, then moved the ball on through Milner to Doherty, who kicked over a fine point from the right side of the field.

After this initial burst, the game settled down, as Offaly finally began to take part in the game in an attacking sense. The half forward line in particular came into the game well, and Ger Treacy took Offaly’s second point, a fine shot from a tight angle near the left corner of the pitch. A Ross Brady free then reduced the deficit to a goal, before Milner picked up a breaking ball around midfield and cut into Offaly territory at great pace and converted. The margin was stretched further as Ciarán Kelly scored one of the best points of the game, receiving the ball from a free, rounding his man well, turning inside and knocking the ball over the middle of the crossbar from just inside the 45m line out near the left touchline.

This score at least seemed to spur Offaly into action, as their best period in the match followed in the remaining 15 mins to half time. Scores from Ross Brady, Rory Connor and John Knight came in succession, as the home side began to dominate. Niall Derby and Ger Treacy down the left hand side were combining really well, and were responsible for a lot of the incisive play around that time. Milner’s third point, just before half time, left a goal between the sides at the break.

The second half really only had one team in it. Meath started brightly, but five wides with only a Carney point in between meant that they had not converted their good approach play into scores. When Ken Casey reduced the arrears to three with fifteen minutes left, you felt that the game could have gone either way, and the next five minutes would be crucial – and so it proved. A Ciarán Kelly free was followed by the killer blow. Robert Doherty won the ball just inside the Offaly half, and turned and delivered a glorious ball into his hitherto quiet corner forward partner, Conor Staunton. Staunton won the ball over the shoulder of his marker, shot low to the corner, beating the keeper, and hit the inside of the post. With Bracken and Higgins strewn on the ground after their attempts to block the shot, the rebound was a tap in and Meath suddenly found them selves in front by 7. A Willie Mulhall point was sandwiched between two from Sean Whelehan, and with the game entering the last five minutes, only the margin was in doubt. Ken Casey, Rory Connor and the goalscorer Conor Staunton rounded out the scoring.

Meath will have travelled home a happy team, and they can look forward to a summer filled with potential as this side has some fine individual performers as well as a good team and work ethic. Their whole full back line of O’Halloran, O’Connor and Ryan played very well on some lively Offaly forwards who given a decent supply of ball throughout the game. All six starting forwards scored from play, and in Rory O’Connor they have a midfielder that has the build of a county senior, and if he continues to play like he did in this game, it won’t be too long before he fills that role as well.

For Offaly, Diarmuid Horan, Richie Dalton and above all Niall Derby in the backs all put in fine performances, while further out the field Derek Molloy – who had to retire injured – Ross Brady and Ger Treacy will all cause defences problems in the games to come. With several players unavailable for this match due to their involvement with the Vocational schools team, there are still reasons for optimism, although the fact that Offaly created no real goal chance throughout the match will be food for thought for the selectors going forward.

Meath: Chris Carney 1-1, Conor Staunton 1-1, William Milner 0-3, Seán Whelehan 0-2, Ciarán Kelly 0-2 (1f), Robert Doherty 0-1, Michael Doherty 0-1.
Offaly: Rory Connor 0-3, Ken Casey 0-2 (1f), Ross Brady 0-2 (1f), Ger Treacy 0-1, John Knight 0-1, William Mulhall 0-1

Meath: J Ginnity; M O’Halloran, C O’Connor, E Ryan; R Sherlock, D Reynolds, P Howard; R O’Connor, M Dowling; W Milner, C Carney, S Whelehan; C Kelly (capt.), R Doherty, C Staunton.
Subs: A Nestor for Ryan, E Reilly for Milner, P Carry for Kelly

Offaly: D Bracken; K Higgins, D Horan, J Ryan; S Egan, R Dalton (capt.), N Derby; D Molloy, D Kavanagh; R Brady, J Knight, G Treacy; W Mulhall, R Connor, K Casey.
Subs: S Kelly for Molloy, K Kavanagh for Higgins, G Ward for Knight

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