Mark Abbott’s late goal eases nerves as Offaly secure promotion

Fermanagh’s comeback finally ended by sub’s goal in Tullamore

Offaly’s Mark Abbott scores a goal despite the efforts of Richard O’Callaghan and Tiernan Daly of Fermanagh during the Allianz Football League Division 3 semi-final at  Bord na Mona O’Connor Park in  Tullamore. Photograph: Brian Reilly-Troy/Inpho

Offaly’s Mark Abbott scores a goal despite the efforts of Richard O’Callaghan and Tiernan Daly of Fermanagh during the Allianz Football League Division 3 semi-final at Bord na Mona O’Connor Park in Tullamore. Photograph: Brian Reilly-Troy/Inpho

 

Offaly 1-14 Fermanagh 0-12

Offaly secured promotion to Division Two of the National Football League with a drama-packed win over Fermanagh in an engrossing semi-final in Bord na Mona O’Connor Park in Tullamore.

The 1-14 to 0-12 win does not tell the full story of a game that was in the balance near the end. Fermanagh were trailing by just 0-14 to 0-12 with the game drifting into injury time and within touching distance of an absolutely sensational come from behind win. A 70th-minute goal from Offaly sub Mark Abbott after Niall McNamee intercepted a misplaced Seán McNally kick-out got them home but it was one very close run thing.

For three-quarters of the game, Offaly were the better side and by a considerable distance at that. They controlled all sectors with Fermanagh struggling to match their intensity and drive. Cian Farrell and Anton Sullivan were super for Offaly in the first half and they fully deserved their 0-10 to 0-4 half-time lead.

Fermanagh’s fate looked to be sealed when Eoin Donnelly was red-carded for a second yellow card in first-half injury time. It didn’t improve a lot for them on the resumption as Offaly remained in control. They went 0-12 to 0-5 ahead and were 0-14 to 0-7 clear after 51 minutes.

They looked in no danger but then Fermanagh staged a terrific recovery. With McNally drifting out the field for his goals, they were a transformed team, forcing Offaly into errors and the home side were reaching for the panic button. With Seán Quigley finding his range from play and frees, they got back into it and a seriously worried Offaly were out on their feet before that late Abbott goal got them home.

OFFALY: P Dunican (0-1, 45); J Lalor, E Rigney, N Darby (0-1); C Doyle, C Stewart, J Hayes; P Cunningham, E Carroll; S Horan, D Dempsey, A Sullivan (0-4); B Allen, C Farrell (0-7, three frees, two marks), R McNamee (0-1).

Subs: C Mangan for Carroll (h-t), N McNamee for Allen (43), B Carroll for Horan, J Maher for Ruari McNamee (both 59), M Abbott (1-0) for Sullivan, A Leavy for Cunningham (both 67).

FERMANAGH: S McNally; K Connor, J Cassidy, L Flanagan; K McDonnell, J McMahon, A Breen; D Leonard, S McGullion (0-1); C Corrigan (0-1), T Bogue, J Largo Ellis; E Donnelly, D McGurn (0-3), S Quigley (0-6, five frees).

Subs: D McCusker for Connor, U Kelm for Leonard (both h-t), R O’Callaghan (0-1) for Bogue (43), T Daly for Breen (45), M McAuley for McGurn (67), S Cassidy for Flanagan (68), P McCusker for McMahon (73).

Referee: Patrick Maguire (Longford).

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