Ciaran Carey slams relegation system after Kingdom stun Offaly
Kerry 2-18 Offaly 2-17
Tight finishes were nothing new to Ciaran Carey in his playing days with Limerick but rarely has a win seemed more like a defeat than this big shock in Birr yesterday.
The victory will do an enormous amount of good for hurling in Kerry but the reality that their first win over Offaly since 1957 wasn't long sinking it when it emerged that, far from reaching the quarter-finals, they would have to face Laois in a relegation play-off.
Wexford and Offaly are in the quarter-finals with two wins while Kerry, also on four points, face a relegation play-off against pointless Laois. Carey wants the system changed.
"It's strange and it's something the so-called big boys need to look at. I firmly believe anyone who is on zero points should be the team to go down," he said.
But Carey said they would now focus on facing a Laois side who they defeated in Portlaoise on the opening weekend.
Eamon Kelly, the Offaly manager who guided Kerry to promotion and the Christy Ring Cup last year, wasn't surprised by their ability.
"They fought harder and they wanted it more. They were far sharper in the tackle. They showed huge character in coming back and they deserved their victory."
Offaly, who now meet Kilkenny in the quarter-finals, were again dependent on the accuracy of Shane Dooley after failing to push on when Joe Bergin and James Mulrooney struck for goals early in each half.
The accuracy of John Egan kept Kerry in touch while the pace of Jordan Conway was also key to their challenge. Offaly led by 1-11 to 0-10 at the break and quick points from Dooley and Bergin put further daylight between.
Egan responded with an excellent goal and while Mulrooney cancelled it, Kerry were right back in contention when Colum Harty drilled home a goal.
Kerry drew level going into the final quarter and hit the front for the first time 14 minutes from the end through Conway and while the lead changed hands in the closing stages, Kerry sealed the win with late points from Egan and Shane Nolan.
scorers - Kerry: J Egan 1-10 (0-9f), J Conway 0-3, C Harty 1-0, J Griffin, M Boyle 0-2 each, S Nolan 0-1. Offaly: S Dooley 0-13 (8fs, 1 s-l, 1 '65'), J Mulrooney, J Bergin 1-1 each, C Egan, S Ryan 0-1.
Kerry - A McCabe 8; B Murphy 7, P Kelly 6, K Carmody 6; J Diggins 7, D Dineen 7, T Murnane 7; D Collins 6, J Griffin 7; B O'Leary 6, M O'Leary 7, J Buckley 6; J Conway 8, M Boyle 7, J Egan 8. Subs: C Harty 7 for Buckley (35), S Nolan 7 for B O'Leary (54), T Casey 6 for Diggins (58), S Weir 6 for Kelly (63), P Lucid 5 for Griffin (70).
Offaly - J Dempsey 6; N Wynne 7, C McDonald 6, P Rigney 6; P Camon 6, C Doughan 6, D Shortt 6; S Kinsella 7, S Ryan 6; P Murphy 6, C Egan 7, J Mulrooney 7; S Dooley 8, J Bergin 7, S Cleary 6. Subs: J Sampson 6 for Murphy (32), C Kiely 6 for Cleary (42), K Connolly 6 for Kinsella (52), S Connolly 6 for Wynne (55), P Guinan 6 for Ryan (64).
ref - J Keane (Galway)