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Dublin huff and puff but blow past Offaly

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Eoghan O'Gara, Dublin, under pressure from Offaly's Graham Guilfoyle.

Eoghan O'Gara, Dublin, under pressure from Offaly's Graham Guilfoyle.

SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Conor McGuire tries to block Offaly's Ciaran Kiely at Parnell Park.

Dublin's Conor McGuire tries to block Offaly's Ciaran Kiely at Parnell Park.

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Dublin's Niall Scully send the ball forward ahead of Brian Crombie's challenge.

Dublin's Niall Scully send the ball forward ahead of Brian Crombie's challenge.

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Philip Ryan, Dublin, in action against Brian Crombie, left, and John Ledwith, Offaly.

Philip Ryan, Dublin, in action against Brian Crombie, left, and John Ledwith, Offaly.

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Offaly's Declamn Hogan puts pressure on Niall Scully, Dublin.

Offaly's Declamn Hogan puts pressure on Niall Scully, Dublin.

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Eoghan O'Gara, Dublin, under pressure from Offaly's Graham Guilfoyle.

WET and windy Parnell Park was no place for the faint-hearted on or off the pitch last night but the foul weather conditions did not dilute the competitive nature of this Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup tie.

This, despite Dublin's traditional aversion to busting a gut to win the traditional Leinster pre-season competition, and Offaly's fall in the rankings in the province.

Their last victory in the O'Byrne Cup was in 2008, and in the years 2005-14 inclusive, the big guns have only lifted the trophy twice.

Jim Gavin made it clear after Sunday's opening win over Maynooth University that progress, not perfection, would do nicely and if they got to the final that would be a bonus.

For the players, particularly newbies and squad members, the task this week is to make a strong impression on the Metropolitans' manager as he sifts through the personnel who will carry the weighty hopes of the Boys in Blue this year.

WARNED

Offaly's new manager Pat Flanagan warned his players to expect a serious contest from the Dubs, despite an impressive opening performance in defeating Laois last Sunday, and he was neither surprised nor disappointed to find the home team well motivated considering the time of year and the weather.

Flanagan would also have been very pleased with his own team's showing in the first half, as they entered the interval leading by 0-10 to 0-7.

Offaly were minus the Rhode contingent but when they return, the county champions players will find stiff competition for places.

Playing with the strong breeze, the visitors opened briskly. Corner forwards Bernard Allen and Nigel Dunne had their shooting boots on, and between them scored five of the Offaly points in that first half.

Graham Guilfoyle was exceptionally strong in midfield, and Offaly looked quite comfortable as they built up their lead.

Dublin were not far off the pace. Centre forward Dean Rock was back to his customary accuracy after some errant shooting last Sunday, and he contributed a creditable 0-5, three from frees, with Eoghan O'Gara and Philly Ryan the other Dublin scorers in that half.

Offaly skipper Alan Mulhall made a good block from a goal-bound shot by Nicky Devereux towards the end of the opening 35 minutes. A goal then would have been a tonic for the Dubs.

Three players were booked in the half - Dublin's Craig Dunleavy and Emmet O'Conghaile and Offaly's Keith Mullally.

Rock reduced the deficit with a close range point from a free inside the first minute of the second half, and Niall Scully clipped over another score soon after that.

Clearly the wind advantage was helping Dublin but they still needed to get that elusive equaliser as soon as possible.

Offaly lifted the siege with a 44th minute score from a free by Nigel Dunne, and two minutes later, Eoghan O'Gara was replaced for Dublin by Michael Deegan of Ashbourne.

The intensity ramped up as Dublin ground their way into the Offaly half` time and again, despite the commendable and stubborn resistance of their opponents.

Steadily, remorselessly, the blue wave kept breaking against the rocks and wearing away at the crumbling rearguard action being mounted by Offaly.

They got their reward in a five minute period from the 52nd to the 58th minute when points by Tomas Brady, Emmet O'Conghaile, Mick Deegan, and Philly Ryan put them ahead by 0-13 to 0-12.

That was the launch pad the Dubs needed to continue to raise the ante, and with five minutes to go they had added further scores by Brady, and two from Rock, one a free.

Sub William Mulhall's well-taken 67th minute point made it interesting at 0-13 to 0-16, but Rock took the sting out of with the last score of the game.

Afterwards Dublin manager Gavin expressed his satisfaction with the commitment of his players on a tough night for football.

"There was a strong wind blowing there tonight and Offaly made good profit from it in the first half and took excellent scores. "I was impressed how our guys responded in the second half. We had a chat at half-time and their application was really good in the second half," he said.

Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-9 (5fs); T Brady, P Ryan 0-2 each; N Scully, E O'Conghaile, M Deegan E O'Gara; 0-1 each. Offaly: N Dunne 0-4 (45,2fs); B Allen (2fs); E Carroll 0-2 each; D Hogan, J Kavanagh, K Mullally, W Mulhall, N Bracken 0-1 each.

Dublin - S Currie; M Fitzsimons, E Culligan, D Daly; N Devereux, J Small, G Hannigan; C Dunleavy, E O'Conghaile; T Brady, D Rock, N Scully; N Collins, E O'Gara, P Ryan. Subs: P O'Higgins for C Dunleavy (h.t); M Deegan for E O'Gara (44); S Lowndes for N Scully (49); C Maguire for N Collins (49); R McGowan for D Daly (57); I Kavanagh for N Devereux (63);

Offaly - A Mulhall; E Rigney, P McConway, J Ledwith; B Crombie, J Maloney, C Donoghue; G Guilfoyle, R Allen; K Mullally, E Carroll, N Bracken; B Allen, J Kavanagh, N Dunne. Subs: L Kelly for K Mullally (46); W Mulhall for B Allen (45); J O'Connor for B Crombie (51); D Kelly for N Dunne (60); J Evans for N Bracken (60); C McNamee for R Allen (68)

Ref - P Maguire (Longford)

Irish Independent