Derry blow Offaly away to claim Division 3 title

John Maughan’s men did not have to play this final and now may wish they hadn’t

Derry’s Shane McGuigan and Anton Sullivan of Offaly during the Division 3 final at Croke Park. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Derry’s Shane McGuigan and Anton Sullivan of Offaly during the Division 3 final at Croke Park. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Derry 0-21 Offaly 1-6

Given the proximity to their Leinster SFC opener against Louth in just eight days, Offaly didn’t actually have to play this Division 3 final and they may very well wish now that they hadn’t.

Outfought, outthought, overwhelmed at times and ultimately fortunate to only lose by 12 points, this was a significant shellacking for John Maughan’s men.

Shane McGuigan top scored for Derry with seven points though it was a powerful collective performance from a side with 11 different scorers, including all the starting midfielders and forwards.

Gareth McKinless oozed quality from the centre-back slot and with captain Christopher McKaigue behind him and ex-AFL player Conor Glass and Emmett Bradley ahead of him at midfield, a solid Oak Leaf core was evident.

That strong spine continues up through the forwards with Niall Loughin and McGuigan contributing 0-11 between them from the centre and full-forward positions.

Most of those were from frees admittedly and McGuigan did butcher a couple of goal chances including a 75th minute penalty which was curiously saved by Peter Cunningham, standing in for goalkeeper Paddy Dunican who’d been black carded after dragging down Jack Doherty.

Derry could have won by so much more with Loughlin and McGuigan both having goals ruled out for over-carrying while Glass punched a shot off the post and McGuigan had another effort saved by Dunican and yet the Ulster men didn’t actually play to their full potential.

Those missed chances and some over-elaboration at times all contributed to the feeling that they have plenty more in the tank.

The game was watched by 2,400 supporters who were dispersed throughout the upper and lower decks of the Cusack Stand.

Derry pinned Offaly back for long stretches of the first-half and their six-point lead - 0-9 to 0-3 - entering first-half stoppage time was probably about the worst they could have yielded, given their dominance.

McKinless won two frees that were converted. Ethan, Conor Doherty and Loughlin drew fouls that Derry capitalised on too but Eoin Carroll’s stoppage time goal for Offaly, notable for a terrific reverse pass in the buildup from sub Niall McNamee, gave Maughan’s men some hope.

When McNamee converted a mark early in the second-half, they trailed by just three points, 0-10 to 1-4.

That was as good as it got for the Faithful though with only one of their six points coming from open play, Jordan Hayes’ 43rd minute effort.

Derry rolled on the subs and piled on the pain with Doherty and Niall Toner on the mark as the 2014 Division 1 finalists stroked over the game’s last seven points to win at their ease.

Derry: O Lynch; C McCluskey, C McKaigue (0-1), P McGrogan; C Doherty, G McKinless, Padraig Cassidy; C Glass (0-1), E Bradley (0-1); E Doherty (0-2), N Loughlin (0-4, 3f), C McFaul (0-1); B Heron (0-1), S McGuigan (0-7, 5f, 1 s/l), O McWilliams (0-1).

Subs: Paul Cassidy for McWilliams 41, N Toner (0-1) for Heron 57, J Doherty (0-1) for C Doherty 68, K McKaigue for Bradley & B McCarron for E Doherty 72.

Offaly: P Dunican; J Lalor, E Rigney, C Stewart; C Doyle, N Darby, J Hayes (0-1); E Carroll (1-0), P Cunningham; S Horan, D Dempsey, A Sullivan; B Allen, C Farrell (0-4, 3f, 1m), R McNamee.

Subs: N McNamee (0-1, 1m) for Allen 26, C Mangan for Lalor h/t, A Leavy for Carroll & B Carroll for Horan 47, C Donohoe for Hayes & J Maher for R McNamee 53, J Moloney for Sullivan 60.

Referee: S Lonergan (Tipperary).

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