| 24.7°C Dublin

Derry point way to Allianz NFL Division 3 final win over Offaly in front of 2,400 fans at Croke Park

Derry 0-21 Offaly 1-6

Close

Supporters look on from the Cusack Stand during the Allianz Football League Division 3 final between Derry and Offaly at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Supporters look on from the Cusack Stand during the Allianz Football League Division 3 final between Derry and Offaly at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Supporters look on from the Cusack Stand during the Allianz Football League Division 3 final between Derry and Offaly at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Derry secured their second trophy in Croke Park in three seasons hammering Offaly to win the Allianz National Football League Division 3 title this evening.

Two years ago, under a different manager Damien McErlean, they won the Division 4 title. It’s a long way removed from the heady days of the 1990s when the Ulster side were playing for the big prizes at headquarters.

Derry and Offaly, indeed, clashed in the Division 1 decider in 1998 which Offaly won. The Faithful County were making their first appearance at headquarters since the 2015 Division 4 final in which they beat Longford.

The Ulster side won this one at a canter and could afford the luxury of a missed penalty against a stand-in Offaly goalkeeper deep in injury time. They were much the better side with Conor Glass outstanding at midfield.

Niall McNamee came off the bench for this 150th appearance and did inspire a brief Offaly revival either side of half time but the poverty of their effort was emphasised by the failure of the six forwards to score from play.

Close

Niall Darby of Offaly clears the ball on the line, but the goal that was signaled by the umpire was subsequently disallowed, during the Allianz Football League Division 3 final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Niall Darby of Offaly clears the ball on the line, but the goal that was signaled by the umpire was subsequently disallowed, during the Allianz Football League Division 3 final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Niall Darby of Offaly clears the ball on the line, but the goal that was signaled by the umpire was subsequently disallowed, during the Allianz Football League Division 3 final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

For the first time in 483 days crowds are back at Croke Park – albeit just 2,400 – as headquarters hosted its first match since last December’s All-Ireland women’s final.

Both sides deployed a sweeper so, though there was plenty of movement, scores were at a premium.

Derry did have the ball in the Offaly net early on, but Gareth McKinless was whistled up for over-carrying in the build-up.

McKinless’ role as sweeper enabled him to move to carry the ball unchecked and his forward runs caused havoc in the Offaly defence. Their cause wasn’t helped either by poor finishing – they kicked four wides in the first quarter including two frees and trailed 5-1 at the first water break.

GAA Newsletter

Exclusives from under the skin of the GAA, from Ireland’s largest and best GAA team; Brolly, Mullane, Hogan and Ó Sé, to name but a few.

This field is required

With just one score registered from a free and trailing by six points Offaly introduced super sub Niall McNamee but their inexplicable failure to deep with the runs of unmarked sweeper McKinless continued to undermine them.

Inevitably though it was McNamee who provided the moment of inspirational to revive Offaly’s chances in the third minute of injury time. He evaded his marker and linked up his cousin Ruairi whose cross was fisted to the net by midfielder Eoin Carroll.

It was Offaly’s first score from play in the half and badly wanted. They still trailed by four to the break (0-10 to 1-3) but at least they were back in game.

It was a three-point game early in the second half when McNamee won a converted mark. Significantly, Derry captain Chrissy McKaigue switched on to the Rhode veteran immediately afterwards.

With Conor Glass outstanding at midfield for Derry the one-way traffic resumed with Derry outscoring Offaly 4-1 during the remainder of the quarter and the true extent of their dominance was reflected in the fact that they kicked four wides as well.

Derry also had a goal disallowed after Shane McGuigan was adjudged to have nudged the ball over the line with his hand after a goal mouth scramble.

From the perspective of Derry boss Rory Gallagher it was another goal chance butchered by his forwards.

It scarcely mattered on this occasion, but it will when the stakes are higher in the Ulster championship.

Ciaran McFaul’s 66th minute point for Derry meant that all six Derry forwards had scored from play. In contrast, none of the Offaly forwards scored from play.

There was drama deep in injury time when Offaly goalkeeper Paddy Dunican who was unlucky not to score a point a few minutes earlier was blacked carded when he hauled down Derry substitute Jack Doherty.

Offaly centre forward Peter Cunningham stood in as the emergency goalkeeper and blocked Shane McGuigan’s poorly struck penalty.

On another day the Ulster side might rue all the goal chances they missed. But even though both sides were promoted there was a huge gulf in standards between the two sides.

Scorers - Derry: S McGuigan 0-7, (5f, I sideline), N Loughlin 0-4, (3f), E Doherty 0-2, B Heron, E Bradley, O McWilliams. C Glass, C McFaul, N Toner, C McKaigue, , J O’Doherty each. Offaly: C Farrell 0-4 (3f, 1m), E Carroll 1-0, N McNamee (1m), J Hayes 0-1 each.

Derry: O Lynch, C McKaigue, P McGrogan; P Cassidy, G McKinless, C Doherty; C Glass, E Bradley; E Doherty, N O’Loughlin, C McFaul; B Heron, S McGuigan, O McWilliams. Subs: P Cassidy for McWilliams (42), P Cassidy for Heron (57), J Doherty for C Doherty (68), K McKaigue for Bradley (72), B McCarron for Doherty

Offaly: D Dunican; D Dempsey, E Rigney, N Darby; C Doyle, C Stewart, J Hayes; J Lalor, E Carroll; S Horgan, P Cunningham, A Sullivan; B Allen, C Farrell, R McNamee. Subs: N McNamee for Allen (26), C Mangan for Lalor (ht), A Leavy for Carroll (47), B Carroll for Horan (47), C Donohoe for Doyle (53), J Maher for R McNamee (53), J Moloney for Sullivan (60).

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary).


Most Watched





Privacy