By Michael Dundon
All-Ireland SF Qualifier Round One
Tipperary 1-12 Offaly 0-10
“A good win – I’ll take a championship win any time”, Manager Peter Creedon’s reaction after Tipperary saw off Offaly with a comfortable win in the All-Ireland senior football qualifiers, round one, at Semple Stadium, on Saturday evening. Tipperary were not flattered by the margin of victory and should have won by more, but a couple of goal chances were spurned in the first half to leave a rather disappointing Offaly outfit in the frame for much longer than their effort deserved.
Manager Creedon thought Tipperary “a bit nervy at the start”, but said that when Tipperary did get going they got some good scores.
None more so than their first half goal which was the main plank in this win. A long delivery from Alan Moloney in the 16th minute found Michael Quinlivan at the edge of the square. His knock-down, which was goal-bound, was tapped over the line by the in-rushing Peter Acheson for a goal that put Tipperary 1-3 to 0-2 ahead.
A minute earlier they might have had a goal when Quinlivan was again the creator but George Hannigan fumbled the pass and the opportunity was lost. In the 29th minute, Brian Fox surged forward from defence and got inside the backs but before he could”pull the trigger”, he was swallowed up by a recovering defence.
On the stroke of half-time, Michael Quinlivan was grounded by Offaly goalkeeper Shane Sullivan. He took the penalty himself but the keeper saved his effort with the ball falling to Alan Moloney who blazed over the bar for an interval lead of 1-5 to 0-6 lead.
It was somewhat less than the home side deserved and, with Offaly having the fresh breeze to assist them on the resumption, a two point lead did not seem nearly enough for the expected onslaught in the second half.
In the event, that never materialised. Tipperary were much more dominant in the second period, four unanswered points in eight minutes, from the 43rd to the 51st minutes, by Alan Moloney, Brian Mulvihill, Richie Ryan and Michael Quinlivan,shooting them 1-10 to 0-7 clear, and cruising.
Offaly were hanging on at this stage , and after Niall McNamee pointed for them, Tipperary extended their advantage further with points from Philip Austin and Ritchie Ryan in the 59th minute.
Brian Fox was in a goal-scoring position in the 61st minute but did not get the service that was required – a let-off that seemed to galvanise Offaly into action as they had the better of the closing minutes, adding two points, but never threatening to overhaul their rivals, who will be somewhat dismayed at failing to raise a flag in the closing eleven minutes, although substitutions at that stage possibly disrupted the flow of the team.
Peter Creedon said afterwards that he was very happy with the Tipperary performance. ”Offaly have a great tradition in football, and I would be happy to beat them at any time. I thought we did O.K. once we got over the nerves, and we are pleased to be in the draw for the next round”, he added.
The manager had good reason to be pleased, even allowing for the fact that Offaly football is at a low ebb at present. This was Tipperary thirteenth appearance in the qualifiers, and their fourth win, and given a favourable draw, there is every reason for optimism that further progress can be made.
While there were many mistakes on both sides, the spirit in the Tipperary team was most encouraging with players putting in a big effort to support the man in possession. The manager enjoyed the luxury of being able to give squad members a run as the game wound to a conclusion, but stiffer challenges lie ahead which will require a more concentrated and co-ordinated performance.
The twin-scoring threat of Michael Quinlivan, a minor last year, and Alan Moloney, caused Offaly serious problems, while Peter Acheson and Philip Austin also worked extremely hard. Hugh Coghlan put in a decent shift until tiring towards the end, while Ciaran McDonald was outstanding in a defence in which Paddy Codd and Andrew Morrissey also stood out.
There was little joy for Offaly who have fallen far from the glory days of old. Their second half slump reflected the low morale in the side but Nigel Dunne, Ken Casey, Brian Darby, and Shane Sullivan all did their utmost to turn the tide.
Tipperary – Paul Fitzgerald; Andrew Morrissey, Paddy Codd, Ciaran McDonald; Brian Fox, Robbie Kiely, Alan Campbell; George Hannigan, Hugh Coghlan; Philip Austin(0-2), Peter Ahceson(1-0), Donagh Leahy; Alan Moloney(0-3), Michael Quinlivan (0-4), Richie Ryan(0-2) Subs- Brian Mulvihill(0-1) for Coghlan; Shane Scully for Leahy; Lorcan Egan for Hannigan; Bernard O Brien for Quinlivan; Padraig Whelan for Moloney;
Offaly – A Mulhall; S Sullivan, J Moloney, S Pender; B Darby, M Brazil, E Rigney; A NcNamee, R Dalton; N Dunne(0-3), K Casey(0-5), R Dalton; A Sullivan, P Cunningham, N McNamee(0-2); Subs- N Smith for A McNamee; D Hanlon for Brazil; G Guiulfoyle for Rigney; D Currams for Cunningham; D Kelly for Dunne;
Ref- C Lane, Cork;