Louth hit by Offaly sucker punches as county’s wait on U20 championship victory goes on

Louth 0-10 Offaly 2-4

Kieran McArdle, Louth, is challenged by Diarmuid Finneran, Offaly, during the U20 LFC game in Stabannon. Photo: Aidan Dullaghan/Newspics

Caoimhín Reilly

Louth could have done little more to arrest the county’s miserable U20 championship record at Stabannon on Tuesday night as a late flurry by Offaly denied the Reds a first victory at the seventh attempt.

Having controlled the contest and set-up suitably in dreadful weather conditions, the Christy Grimes/Derek Walsh-managed outfit seemed to be heading towards a comfortable triumph when leading by six points and less than 10 minutes remaining.

With a powerful breeze in their favour, several in attendance felt Louth should have pushed more bodies forward in the second half, though their counter-attacking tactics were working perfectly and a run of four points across six minutes – with star man Kieran McArdle and local pair Harry Butterly and Seán Reynolds (2) on target – looked to have posted the hosts beyond the horizon.

The Reds led by 0-3 to two at half-time having dictated proceedings by keeping possession into the stiff gust. Indeed, the Faithful, who were toothless for lengthy spells, didn’t notch from play until six minutes from the end when substitute Alex Egan slotted a goal past Josh Finlay on the rebound after the St Kevin’s clubman had batted away his penalty kick.

Darragh Dorian was dismissed on a second yellow for his part in the related foul but Louth’s 14 men seemed to have done enough when McArdle – who was excellent – converted his fourth point of the night in added time, after Cathal Ryan had been red carded for Offaly.

But disaster struck four minutes past the hour when Egan’s teasing free-kick towards goal triggered a scramble through which John Furlong somehow turned the ball to the net.

LOUTH: Josh Finlay; Mark Holohan, Beanón Corrigan, Fionn Tipping; Cameron Maher 0-1, Seán Reynolds 0-2, Tadhg McDonnell; Dara McDonnell, Seán Callaghan; James Rogers, Kieran McArdle 0-4 (1m, 3f), Liam Flynn 0-1; Harry Butterly 0-1, Tom Mathews, Darragh Dorian 0-1. Subs: Kyle McElroy for Maher (20-29, 41-43, temporary), Ben Gartlan for Rogers (59).

OFFALY: David Dunican; Dáire McDaid, Diarmuid Finneran, Diarmuid O’Neill; Ben Heffernan, Cathal Ryan, Luke Bourke; John Furlong 1-0, Harry Plunkett 0-3 (3f); Geordi O’Meara 0-1, Niall Furlong, Pauric Robbins; Dylan Byrne, Seán Conway, Jamie Guing. Subs: Alex Egan 1-0 for N Furlong (43), Seán Finneran for Byrne (47), Luke Kelly for Guing (47), Tom Hyland for D O’Neill (53), Cian Murphy for Heffernan (71).

REFEREE: Patrick Coyle (Meath).