Cunningham inspires Faithful surge
Offaly 3-11 Athlone IT 1-9
A second-half surge secured Offaly their second win of the O'Byrne Cup and set up an all-or-nothing clash with Westmeath on Sunday.
If Offaly win in Mullingar, they will top Group C and progress to the semi-final.
They made hard work of things in Gracefield last night but their superior fitness and skill saw them through in a game that sprung to life in the second half.
On a foggy night, Offaly were guilty of eight first-half wides and were lucky to go in 0-6 to 0-5 ahead at the break, with Niall McNamee kicking four points, while Frankie Burke kept AIT in the game.
By contrast, the scores flowed in the second half. After two early points for Offaly, Colm O'Brien hit back with a super goal to put AIT ahead.
However, Offaly struck for a goal of their own from Peter Cunningham and never looked back.
Further goals from Brian Connor and Eoin Carroll made the game safe for the home side despite Ger Egan doing his best for AIT.
Connor had a tremendous game for Offaly in midfield, and McNamee hit a free near the end to wrap up the scoring and finish on six points.
Scorers – Offaly: N McNamee 0-6 (3f), B Connor, P Cunningham 1-1 each, E Carroll 1-0, A Sullivan, M Mitchell, A McNamee 0-1 each. AIT: G Egan (3f), F Burke 0-3 each, C O'Brien 1-0, K Martin (f), C Shine, C Duggan 0-1 each.
Offaly – A Mulhall; B Darby, S Pender, E Rigney; D Hanlon, D Kelly, G Guilfoyle; R Brady, B Connor; K McGuinness, M Mitchell, E Carroll; A Sullivan, N McNamee, P Cunningham. Subs: S Sullivan for K McGuinness (h-t), J McPadden for D Hanlon (48), J Ledwith for G Guilfoyle (57), J Maher for A Sullivan (58).
AIT – K McGuire; C O'Brien, K Clarke, E Kerins; T Rahill, K Martin L Murphy; C Duggan, G Egan; J McGivney, J Mulligan, J Dolan; A Stone, C Shine, F Burke. Subs: D Maleady for E Kerins (42), D Queeney for C Duggan (54), A Caul for A Stone (59), A Coffey for J McGivney (63), C Tighe for K Martin (69).
Ref – S Carroll (Westmeath).