Brian McDonnell at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh
AS Tipperary raced to a 13-point win at Nenagh’s MacDonagh Park on Sunday afternoon Offaly were left to beg for referee James McGrath’s final whistle on humanitarian grounds.
Offaly, of course, had their moments, most notably in the opening half when Joe Bergin caused a few problems at centre-forward, but once John Coghlan was introduced those moments were few and far between. What Joe Dooley’s side could muster proved far too little in the end against a Tipperary side who swatted the Faithful challenge aside at their ease. Tipp were simply bigger, stronger, faster and better than their near neighbours.
The late withdrawal of Pádraic Maher from the starting team forced Tipp to re-jig their backline, but they coped admirably and took inspiration from the resolute display of Paul Curran who was at his uncompromising best at full-back.
Eddie Connolly (withdrawn at the interval following a clash with Offaly’s Michael Cordial), Michael Cahill and Paddy Stapleton impressed at regular intervals while wing-back John O’Keeffe was superb and capped a fine display with a superb point.
Gearóid Ryan proved an able foil for man of the match Brendan Maher at midfield - this duo notched 1-5 between them - while Benny Dunne made his presence felt in the half-forward line scoring four points. On the opposite wing Patrick Maher was at his industrious best while Pa Bourke performed like an inter-county veteran in the inside line, scoring and creating opportunities at his ease.
Lar Corbett made a welcome return to action while the performance of substitutes Shane Bourke, who scored three points, and John Coghlan, who got the better of Joe Bergin in jig time, will have given Declan Ryan plenty to think about.
Offaly, playing with the wind and into the ‘scoring goals’ in the opening half, took the lead thanks to Joe Bergin in the very first minute before two Pa Bourke points (one free) edged Tipp in front by the third. A nasty-looking hand injury forced the withdrawal of Eoin Kelly in the fourth before a Benny Dunne point in the fifth minute helped Tipp into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.
Brian Carroll (free) replied for Offaly, but Tipp were well on top with a Pa Bourke free and a smashing Benny Dunne point in the 11th minute presenting Tipp with a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
The impressive Joe Bergin responded for Offaly while Pa Bourke saw his goal-bound 21-yard free saved by James Dempsey in the 15th minute.
Colin Egan dragged Offaly to within a point of their hosts in the 17th minute, but within seconds Pa Bourke notched a superb effort from a tight angle to leave two between them.
The combination of Brendan Maher and Gearóid Ryan at midfield was fast developing into an overwhelming influence on the game, an influence franked by a Brendan Maher point and a Gearóid Ryan goal, following sterling work from Patrick Maher, in the 21st minute.
Tipp now led 1-7 to 0-4, but some sloppy hurling allowed Offaly to stay in touch.
Michael Cordial was allowed far too much room in the 23rd minute and although Brendan Maher notched a fine individual effort three minutes later Offaly added to their tally through Brian Carroll (a free and a ’65) to leave just four between them.
Brendan Maher, in first half injury time, shook off three heavy tackles to score the point of the game while Eddie Connolly pulled off a vital interception with Offaly’s Joe Bergin raiding late in the first half before another Michael Cordial point retired the sides with four between them at the break - Tipperary 1-9 Offaly 0-8.
Offaly could only manage to add two points to their tally in the second half. A Brian Carroll free cut the deficit to three points immediately after the break while Daniel Currams completed the scoring from an Offaly point of view in the 41st minute.
Although never operating at their optimum Tipp, who now featured John Coghlan at centre-back and Lar Corbett up front, helped themselves to 11 second half points.
Benny Dunne launched the procession in the 40th minute while Shane Bourke and Pa Bourke both notched neat points to help Tipperary into a 1-12 to 0-10 lead by the 46th minute.
Next came the turn of Gearóid Ryan, Shane Bourke and Brendan Maher, scoring his fourth from play, to leave eight between them by the 59th minute - 1-15 to 0-10.
A ‘disagreement’ between Benny Dunne and Dylan Hayden saw both players cautioned by referee James McGrath as this encounter ambled to its inevitable conclusion. John O’Keeffe, in the 63rd minute, flashed a great ball into the hand of Shane Bourke for a smashing point before a Pa Bourke free left ten between them (1-17 to 0-10) a minute later.
A late point from Benny Dunne and a classy Pa Bourke effort added to Tipp’s tally before wing-back John O’Keeffe capped a fine individual display with a superb point three minutes into injury time.
Tipperary: Brendan Cummins (Ballybacon-Grange), Eddie Connolly (Loughmore-Castleiney), Paul Curran (Mullinahone), Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields), Paddy Stapleton (Borris-Ileigh), David Young (Toomevara), John O’Keeffe (Clonoulty-Rossmore, 0-1), Gearóid Ryan (Templederry Kenyons, 1-1), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh, 0-4), Benny Dunne (Toomevara, 0-4), Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Patrick Maher (Lorrha & Dorrha), Paul Kelly (Mullinahone), Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone, captain), Pa Bourke (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-7, 0-3 frees). Subs: Shane Bourke (JK Brackens, 0-3) for Eoin Kelly, Lar Corbett (Thurles Sarsfields) for Paul Kelly, James Woodlock (Drom & Inch) for Eddie Connolly, John Coghlan (Moyne-Templetuohy) for David Young, Sean Carey (Moyle Rovers) for Noel McGrath.
Offaly: James Dempsey, David Franks, David Kenny, Stephen Egan, Michael Verney, Rory Hanniffy, Derek Morkan, Conor Mahon, Dylan Hayden, Michael Cordial (0-2), Joe Bergin (0-2), Colin Egan (0-1), Brian Carroll (0-4, 0-3 frees, 0-1 ’65), Daniel Currams (0-1), Odhran Kealey. Subs: James Mulrooney for Odhran Kealey, Cathal Parlon for Colin Egan, Kevin Connolly for Michael Cordial, Shane Kelly for Conor Mahon, Stephen Wynne for Dylan Hayden.
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).