Bergin delivers tour de force for Faithful after red card derails Laois
Offaly 1-27 Laois 0-18
Allianz NHL Division 1B
OFFALY turned on the style in the first half to lay the foundations for an easy win in Tullamore yesterday.
Ollie Baker's charges were impressively fit and sharp as they tore Laois asunder in the opening period, and while the visitors salvaged pride with a battling second-half display, they were chasing a lost cause.
With the magnificent Joe Bergin and Brendan Murphy in high-scoring form, Laois just had no answer to Offaly before the break.
Laois' cause was not helped when centre-forward Michael McEvoy was sent off after 21 minutes for a challenge that left James Rigney requiring treatment.
At that stage, the losers were hanging on in Offaly's slipstream, trailing by 1-6 to 0-6. A goal by James Mulrooney, when he drove a breaking ball to the net, put Offaly in the driving seat in the eighth minute but Laois remained competitive for a good while after that.
It all changed when McEvoy headed for his early shower. That provided the signal for Offaly to go for the jugular and Laois couldn't compete. Offaly played their best hurling in the second quarter, winning an abundance of ball, and the points sailed over.
After McEvoy's dismissal, they outscored Laois by nine points to one to lead by 1-15 to 0-7 at the break, and it could have been more as they missed some decent goal chances -- indeed, they could easily have had four goals in the first half.
It meant that Laois were only trying to achieve respectability in the second half. Early on, it looked like they wouldn't even achieve this as Shane Dooley got two points and also missed a good goal chance.
However, Laois did more than hold their own after this, with their best player Brian Dunne giving them a foothold in midfield and Willie Hyland continuing to hit the target from frees and play.
Teddy McCarthy will have been pleased with the manner in which his side dug deep in the second half, even though Offaly did ease off the accelerator.
Laois were only outscored by a point, 0-12 to 0-11, in the second half and they will take a lot of positives from that but it was Offaly who had all the grounds for satisfaction.
Man of the Match: Joe Bergin (Offaly)
Scorers -- Offaly: S Dooley 0-7 (3f), B Murphy 0-5, J Bergin 0-4, J Mulrooney 1-1, S Ryan 0-3, T Carroll 0-2, D Morkan, R Hanniffy, C Mahon, D Molloy, C Egan 0-1 each. Laois: W Hyland 0-8 (4f), B Dunne 0-4, J Fitzpatrick, J Brophy, T Fitzgerald 0-2 each.
OFFALY -- J Dempsey 7; M Verney 6, D Kenny 8, S Wynne 6; D Morkan 6, R Hanniffy 8, D Horan 9; J Rigney 6, C Mahon 6; J Mulrooney 6, D Molloy 6, B Murphy 9; S Ryan 8, J Bergin 9, S Dooley 8. Subs: C Egan 6 for Mahon (44), T Carroll 7 for Mulrooney (54), D Franks 6 for Verney (54), D Mooney 6 for Molloy (65), B Harding 6 for Murphy (68).
LAOIS -- E Reilly 8; B Stapleton 6, D Maher 6, B Smith 6; J Fitzpatrick 7, M Whelan 6, C Dunne 6; J Walsh 6, B Dunne 9; D Peacock 6, M McEvoy 5, W Hyland 8; J Brophy 7, T Fitzgerald 6, W Dunphy 6. Subs: N Foyle 6 for W Dunphy for Dunphy (h-t), S Bourke 6 for Walsh (39), C Murray 6 for Peacock (39), P Mullaney 6 for Smith (61).
REF -- J Owens (Wexford).