Late goals from Stephen Quirke ensure 14-man Offaly retain their status

Kingdom’s bright start insufficient as Faithful County show their class

Offaly’s Ger Healion battles with Pádraig Boyle of Kerry during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B/2A Relegation/Promotion play-off at Semple Stadium. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Offaly’s Ger Healion battles with Pádraig Boyle of Kerry during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B/2A Relegation/Promotion play-off at Semple Stadium. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho


Offaly 3-19 Kerry 0-14

The scoreline suggests a straightforward victory for 14-man Offaly, but in reality Brian Whelehan’s side were mighty relieved to get past Kerry in this Division 1B relegation play-off at Semple Stadium on Saturday night.

In front of 660 supporters, Offaly hurled like a team more afraid of defeat than eager to win, until the 45th-minute sending-off of Sean Cleary.

Once the reality of their challenge set in, Offaly’s class came to the fore and two late goals from Stephen Quirke saw them over the line. Whelehan was might relieved to see his side retain their Division 1B status.

“We firmly believe we were the better team coming into today but our confidence had taken quite a beating,” said the Offaly legend. “The defeat to Antrim hit the squad very hard, it hit everyone involved in the squad very hard, and to try and get the confidence up and to get lads playing the way we know they can play, was tough.

“After the first 15 minutes we were ready to make a couple of substitutions but thankfully we settled and our half-back line got on top,” said Whelehan, who saw Cleary red-carded for an off-the-ball infringement reported by an umpire.

Kerry had started the brighter and were 0-7 to 0-0 ahead after nine minute, with Shane Nolan in splendid form for the Kingdom. But Offaly managed to pull level by half-time, and Joe Bergin’s goal three minutes from the break saw them relax into the tie.

“We are disappointed with the scoreline in the finish, we’d like to have kept it a bit more respectable,” said Kerry manager Eamonn Kelly. “Offaly, all credit to them, we got a good start on them but they showed their experience.

“We were probably that bit tired. The six-day turnaround didn’t help, it was a factor but it wasn’t the difference in the end.”
OFFALY: Conor Slevin; N Wynne, G Healion, J Rigney; B Harding, C Egan (0-1), C Parlon; K Connolly (0-1), Ciarán Slevin; B Carroll (0-8, 0-5f), D Currams (0-1), C Mahon (0-2); S Quirke (2-1), S Cleary (0-1), J Bergin (1-1). Subs: P Geraghty for Ciarán Slevin (29 mins), C McDonald for Healion (50 mins), S Dooley (0-2) for Bergin (51 mins), T Geraghty (0-1) for Quirke (65 mins), K Brady for Connolly (70 mins).
KERRY: T Flynn; B Murphy, T Murnane, T Casey; S Weir, D Dinneen, D O’Connell (0-1); J Griffin, C Harty (0-2); B O’Leary (0-1), D Collins, S Nolan (0-8, 0-3f, 0-1 ‘65); K Carmody, P Boyle (0-1), J Egan. Subs: B Brosnan (0-1) for Carmody (28 mins), P O’Connor for Brosnan (51 mins), J Leahy for O’Leary (54 mins), P Lucid for Boyle (63 mins).
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary) .

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