McManus moment of magic crucial for Offaly
A HARD-working and honest performance saw Offaly secure two vital points when they beat Fermanagh in Tullamore yesterday afternoon.
Neither side managed to provide much genuine inspiration, but Offaly were still good value for their victory.
Fermanagh were dealt a devastating blow three minutes from half-time when corner-back Martin O'Brien was red-carded following an off-the-ball incident while in the second half, some of their wides were in the 'they had to be seen to be believed' category.
Matthew Keenan, Rory Gallagher and Daryl Keenan missed three easy chances at a stage when Fermanagh were chasing the game and crying out for scores. Offaly, however, will be pleased at their win and commitment.
With young Brian Connor -- a son of All-Ireland-winning captain Richie -- powering them on at midfield, they were the better side for much of the first half and led by 0-4 to 0-1 after 12 minutes.
A Daryl Keenan goal levelled it up and James Sherry's point put Fermanagh in front for the first time; but Offaly got back on top and, with John Reynolds causing plenty of problems, they led by 0-9 to 1-5 at half-time.
With the wind on their backs and a numerical advantage, the odds favoured Offaly in the second half but a very gritty Fermanagh side forced them to dig deep.
Quick points from Keenan and Ciaran Flaherty had them back on terms within six minutes of the restart, but Offaly edged back in front with a lovely Niall McNamee point.
The game's crucial score arrived in the 10th minute and it was all about the veteran Ciaran McManus.
Firstly he won the ball deep in his own defence, off-loaded it before racing forward. He bore down on goal and his shot was deflected into the net off the boot of the unfortunate Michael Jones.
That gave Offaly a three-point lead and while Fermanagh had ample opportunities, the home side held on.
Scorers -- Offaly: J Reynolds 0-4, K Casey 0-3 (0-2f), C McManus 1-0, K Slattery, R Dalton, B Connor, D Egan, R Brady (f), N McNamee 0-1 each Fermanagh: D Keenan 1-1, M Keenan 0-3 (0-2f), J Sherry 0-2, T McElroy, R Jones, C Flaherty, R Gallagher 0-1 each.
OFFALY -- A Mulhall; M Conlon, C Kiely, S Pender; R Dalton, S Sullivan, K Slattery; C Carroll, B Connor; D Egan, J Reynolds, C McManus; R Brady, K Casey, N McNamee. Subs: S Ryan for R Brady (46), A Sullivan for McNamee (46), P Sullivan for Egan (61), S Brady for McManus (64), P McConway for Carroll (66).
FERMANAGH -- Ronan Gallagher; M Jones, S Lyons, M O'Brien; P Sherry, B Mulrone, T McElroy; J Sherry, R Jones; T O'Flanagan, M Keenan, C Flaherty; A McCarron, Rory Gallagher, D Keenan. Subs: C McElroy for O'Flanagan (21), R Foy for A McCarron (h-t), N Bowe for P Sherry (55), P Cosgrove for R Jones (59).
REF -- S Doyle (Wexford).