Kildare 1-15 Offaly 1-13
Pat Flanagan bemoaned what he claimed was a common absence of fair play for "so-called lower teams" after Offaly's narrow defeat by Kildare at O'Connor Park on Saturday.
“I thought a number of players had tackles when we were in the forward line and the ball was allowed to go ahead and as soon as they were touched up the far side they got the frees, and that’s what happens when you’re the so-called lower team. You don’t get the breaks,” said Flanagan.
“Unfortunately, that’s the GAA and unless somebody does something about it, that’s always going to be the way.”
Conor Lane did appear to be inconsistent in some of his awards but Offaly did win nine more frees than Kildare. The Lilywhites could also have been aggrieved by Gary White's black card in the 27th minute, as Emmet Bolton seemed to be fouled by Peter Cunningham moments before White's trip on the Offaly player.
Flanagan admitted it might have been different had
found the Kildare net rather than blasting over from close range when his side had the upper hand in the first half.
The key moment though was probably in the 32nd minute, when Willie Mulhall dropped a close-range free into Mark Donnellan's arms from in front of the posts with Offaly leading by two points.
Kildare worked it up the field for a Niall Kelly point and that started a run of six consecutive scores that gave Jason Ryan’s men a 0-10 to 0-6 interval lead. A 61st-minute goal from top-scorer Eoghan O’Flaherty gave them some breathing space, despite Cunningham’s brilliantly taken goal late on.
Ryan alluded to the departure of squad members David Hyland and Darroch Mulhall revealing that the Athy duo had informed him on Tuesday that they were going to America.
Thrown at the players
“A lot of things were thrown at the players this week,” said Ryan. “It wasn’t just losing against Dublin [by 19 points]. It was also the fact that they don’t have a number of their teammates anymore.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge. That was always going to be difficult and it was going to hit us at some stage in the game whether it was at the start, coming in at half time or the last 10 minutes. Thankfully, I would say the 10 minutes before half time when we really dominated the Offaly kick-outs, that was the only difference between the two teams.
“The first 10 minutes, we were very cagey and concerned and worried. That’s no surprise to anyone that has followed Kildare since the qualifiers are in place.
“When you’ve lost a Championship match, the next game, you’re always that bit – hesitant is the wrong word – but you’re not on top of the ground as much as you would when you’re going into your provincial championship games. It’s just that little bit different.
“Hopefully that will free us up and we’ll go into next weekend with another little bit of a spring in our step.”
KILDARE: M Donnellan; M O'Grady, C Fitzpatrick, O Lyons; E Bolton (0-2), E Doyle, K Murnaghan; G White, P Cribbin; P O'Neill, E O'Flaherty (1-7, four frees), C McNally (0-1); E Callaghan (0-1), A Smith (0-3), N Kelly (0-1). Subs: T Moolick for White (black card 28 mins), F Dowling for McNally (48 mins), M Conway for Kelly (60 mins), H Lynch for Dowling (68 mins).
OFFALY: A Mulhall; B Darby, P McConway, E Rigney; N Darby (0-2, frees), J Moloney, J O'Connor; C McNamee (0-1), N Smith; P Cunningham (1-1), G Guilfoyle, A Sullivan (0-2); N McNamee (0-1), N Dunne (0-1), W Mulhall (0-4, three frees). Subs: E Carroll for Smith (half-time), B Allen (0-1) for Dunne (53 mins), J Evans for N McNamee (56 mins), J Ledwith for Mulhall (66 mins), N Bracken for C McNamee (70+2 mins).
Referee: C Lane (Cork)