Darby ensures Offaly delight
OFFALY 0-9 LEITRIM 0-8
THE dismissal of Offaly's Peter Cunningham 10 minutes from time was the one black mark for the Faithful County at Carrick-on-Shannon.
Brian Darby's extra-time free secured victory after Leitrim had fought back from a strong second-half performance by Offaly to level the game with six minutes remaining.
In a low-scoring first half, Leitrim went ahead through a Wayne McKeon point from play after three minutes of the match.
Emlyn Mulligan extended the home side's lead with a pointed free in the 10th minute, while Brian Connor opened the Offaly account with a point just one minute later.
A Ross Brady point from play in the 22nd minute levelled matters and a Mulligan pointed free four minutes later put Leitrim back in front.
In the 35th minute, James Glancy found himself in space and shot over from close range to extend the Leitrim lead.
However, a Peter Cunningham injury-time point from play left the interval score 0-4 to 0-3 in favour of the home side.
Offaly were a transformed side after the break and their speed and physical power overwhelmed Leitrim in the opening period of the half, resulting in three unanswered points for the Offaly men.
Mulligan and substitute Niall McNamee exchanged points in the 45th and 48th minutes and two further Mulligan pointed frees levelled matters with eight minutes remaining.
Following a further exchange of points in the closing minutes, a draw looked likely until Darby's injury-time point gave Offaly the victory, while Leitrim also had Gerry Hickey sent off late on for two yellow cards.
Man of the match: N McNamee (Offaly)
SCORERS – Offaly: B Connor, A Mulhall (2f) 0-2 each, R Brady, B Darby (f), P Cunningham, J Maher, N McNamee 0-1 each Leitrim: E Mulligan 0-5 (4f), W McKeon, J Glancy, S McWeeney 0-1 each.
OFFALY – A Mulhall 8; B Darby 8, P McConway 8, S Sullivan 7; E Carroll 7, S Pender 7, M Brazil 7; R Dalton 8, A McNamee 9; G Guilfoyle 7, R Brady 7, P Cunningham 7; J Maher 8, B Connor 8, W Mulhall 7. Subs: N McNamee 9 for Mulhall, D Kelly 7 for Brady.
LEITRIM – B Flynn 6; P Brennan 6, C Egan 7, P Maguire 6; S McWeeney 7, E Williams 6, D Beck 6; W McKeon 6, T Beirne 6; C Reynolds 6, E Mulligan 7, G Hickey 6; B McDonald 6, J Glancy 6, K Conlon 6. Subs: R Cox 6 for Conlon, P McGowan 6 for Reynolds, C Beirne 6 for Glancy.
REF – S Hurson (Tyrone).