Kerry left to rue glut of missed chances as Offaly strike back to claim Division 2A final berth

A much improved display by the Kingdom was marred by poor shooting, particularly in the first half

Jordan Conway of Kerry in action against Killian Sampson of Offaly during the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A Semi-Final match between Offaly and Kerry at Glenisk O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Damian StackKerryman


Offaly 0-23

Kerry 0-19

It was a case of glass half full and half empty for the Kingdom as, despite their most impressive performance of the season to date, they still slipped to defeat to Offaly in the Division 2A semi-final.

In a sort of reversal of previous rounds Kerry showed the best of themselves in the first half and faded somewhat in the second in the face of a renewed Offaly challenge.

Still with the Joe McDonagh Cup just two weeks down the tracks there was much to be encouraged by with Stephen Molumphy’s outfit showing much more like the side we became familiar with last year.

Nearly every facet of play was improved, bar one. Again their accuracy in front of the posts was badly lacking, especially over the course of that generally impressive first half display.

With the breeze at their backs they had the chance to put Offaly, if not out of sight, then at the very least on the back foot. That the Kingdom didn’t came back to haunt them later on.

The impression one had at half-time was that if Kerry didn’t finish this one out they’d have a whole host of regrets, and simply because of that old failing: wides, wides and more wides.

Molumphy’s men shot six wides inside the opening ten minutes, by the 22nd minute it was eleven wides, one every two minutes. By the end of the half it was up to twelve wides, a considerable improvement over the remaining fifteen minutes to be fair.

All the same to end the second quarter with another wide by Shane Conway, an uncharacteristic miss from a free into the Park Avenue end of O’Connor Park with just seconds on the clock, left one with a sinking feeling.

Despite all their good play, and Kerry were much, much improved on anything we’d seen so far this term, they might not have done enough. A three-point advantage didn’t seem quite sufficient to overcome the breeze into the scoreboard end.

Offaly could hardly be expected to be quite so generous as Kerry had been and, yet, one still couldn’t help but be impressed by how much sharper the Kingdom were in the first half.

The passing was sharp and crisp and to the point. Kerry were moving the ball much better and, while scores were proving hard to come by, chances weren’t.

The scores which did go over were top quality with Jordan Conway’s equaliser to an Eoghan Cahill early-doors free showing what the Kingdom are capable of when they hit the straps.

Still despite opening up a two-point lead having hit three on-the-trot, Kerry found Offaly very hard to shake off. It was four points each sixteen minutes in, and six points each five minutes later following a sweetly struck Charlie Mitchell effort for the hosts.

It was around this point that Kerry hit something of a purple patch, tightening up their shooting considerably to shoot five on the spin (some inspirational long-range Pádraig Boyle efforts lifting spirits) to leave it 0-6 to 0-11 on the half hour mark.

That was in an around the sort of lead Kerry needed to maintain. Offaly to their credit rallied to the break with three Eoghan Cahill frees and a point form play by Dara Maher.

Kerry did keep the scoreboard ticking over with points from Boyle – really stepping up to the mark in the absence of big brother Mikey who went off injured after 22 minutes – to leave three in it at the break, 0-10 to 0-13.

That was just about on the cusp for Kerry considering the advantage expected to come Offaly’s way for the second half. In a stroke of good luck the breeze died down considerably for the second half after a cloud burst late in the first.

Still Offaly’s dander was up, starting the half with a point from David Nally – who shot a brilliant first half sideline cut – and while it took them a while to pull level and subsequently pull clear, the line of travel was clear.

It took the Faithful just seven second half minutes to pull level – at fourteen each – following a pair of placed balls by the unerring Eoghan Cahill.

Kerry did strike back in front briefly thanks to a Pádraig Boyle free, but once Offaly hit the front – points from Cahill and Mitchell on 47 and 54 minutes respectively getting the job done – it was hard to imagine Kerry retaking a lead.

To be fair to Kerry, even with Offaly surging to a four-point advantage over the following five minutes thanks to further unanswered points from Adrian Cleary, Jason Sampson and Paddy Clancy, they never threw in the towel.

With points from Boyle – a free following a foul on the effervescent Jordan Conway – and second half sub Brandon Barrett Kerry were back to within two on 61 minutes, 0-19 to 0-17.

Four in-a-row from Offaly, however, pretty much put the contest to bed – 0-23 to 0-17 two minutes into time added on. Kerry battled on with the final two points of the game and through Boyle forced a wonder save from Stephen Corcoran in the Offaly next, but it was a case of too little too late.

Offaly hung on to claim that semi-final berth and, while certainly disappointing from a Kerry point of view, they could have few complains. To call them authors of their own misfortune might seem cruel, but it might not necessarily be unfair.

What’s more they’ll know it too. For the second week in-a-row they had 22 missed scoring opportunities. For the second week in-a-row their conversion rate was under 50%. At this level that just won’t do.

Get that conversion rate up and Kerry won’t be too far away. That’s the challenge now ahead of the Joe Mac.

OFFALY: Stephen Corcoran, Ben Conneely, Ciarán Burke, Conor Hardiman, Dara Maher (0-1), Jason Sampson (0-1), Killian Sampson, Jack Clancy, Paddy Delaney, Cillian Kiely, Charlie Mitchell (0-2), Adrian Cleary (0-1), Eoghan Cahill (0-13, 11f, 1 ‘65), Shane Dooley, David Nally (0-3, 1 sideline) Subs: David King for C Hardiman, half-time, Paddy Clancy (0-1) for S Dooley, 48, Joey Keenaghan for P Delaney, 64, Liam Langton (0-1) for J Clancy, 67

KERRY: John Brendan O’Halloran, Seán Weir, Evan Murphy, Kyle O’Connor (0-1), Eoin Ross (0-1), Mikey Boyle, Jason Diggins, Daniel Collins (0-2), Fionán Mackessy, Pádraig Boyle (0-8, 7f), Shane Conway (0-4f), Dáithí Griffin, Dan Goggin, Michael Leane, Jordan Conway (0-2) Subs: Eric Leen for M Boyle (inj), 22, Gavin Dooley for D Goggin, half-time, Keith Carmody for S Weir, 45, Brandon Barrett (0-1) for D Griffin, 60, Cllian Trant for E Ross, 70

REFEREE: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin)