Friday 17 January 2020

Maughan demanding more after 'sloppy' Offaly hold off Westmeath

Offaly 0-16 Westmeath 0-11

11 January 2020; Jordan Hayes of Offaly in action against Ronan Wallace of Westmeath during the O'Byrne Cup Semi-Final match between Offaly and Westmeath at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
11 January 2020; Jordan Hayes of Offaly in action against Ronan Wallace of Westmeath during the O'Byrne Cup Semi-Final match between Offaly and Westmeath at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Brian Lowry

Offaly boss John Maughan made no secret of his desire to win the O'Byrne Cup in recent weeks and now his charges are down to the final two as they take on Longford next weekend in the final.

Maughan's side got the better of Westmeath in a scrappy and dull local derby, but the bottom line is that Offaly got the job done.

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"I'm pleased that we won. It's all about winning games where Offaly football is concerned and we've won four games in a row, it's been quite a while since that happened," Maughan said.

"I'm not overly happy with the performance to be quite honest with you, it was quite messy and sloppy, we butchered lots of good chances. It was the same for both sides but I'm just focusing on our performance.

"I was very pleased with the work ethic, the application, the desire to win the game which is encouraging. We're getting a lot of game-time into young lads as well which is good."

Tough Bernard Allen top-scored with eight points in a game that saw 11 of Offaly's 16 points come from placed balls. Conditions were tough in Tullamore and despite not having a forward scoring from play in the opening half, Offaly were a point ahead at half-time.

Alan Stone of Westmeath in action against Cian Farrell of Offaly. Photo: Sportsfile
Alan Stone of Westmeath in action against Cian Farrell of Offaly. Photo: Sportsfile

While Offaly were close to full strength, Westmeath were dealt big blows before throw-in with John Heslin and Kieran Martin withdrawn due to injury.

Speaking on Martin's injury, Westmeath manager Jack Cooney is hoping that the Maryland man will make swift return to action.

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"He picked up an injury, just a foot injury in training on Thursday night. He would have played today only for that," he said. "It's precautionary, he has a boot on there at the moment and we're going to keep an eye on it, take the pressure off him and sit him out for a week or two."

Goal chances were spurned by both sides in the first half but it was Westmeath who looked like edging it at half-time as points from Callum McCormack and Lorcan Dolan left them 0-7 to 0-5 ahead on 28 minutes.

Offaly finished the half on the front foot and three points on the spin from Paddy Dunican (free), Cathal Mangan and Jordan Hayes left the home side 0-8 to 0-7 up at the break.

Offaly made the break away after half-time as five points on the spin, four of which from Bernard Allen, kicked them into a 0-13 to 0-7 lead.

That buffer was significant and they never looked like losing once they got a bit of breathing space.

While not content with the performance levels, Maughan was happy with his side's application although stressing that they have plenty to work on.

"It's about confidence, at this time of year it's very difficult to get any good quality shooting practice, but it's an aspect of our game we've got to work on, and the delivery of ball into our inside line, we've got to work on. It wasn't a classic by any means but we're happy we've won."

Westmeath needed a goal to get themselves back into the game in the second half but they couldn't break through the Offaly rearguard.

They were missing key players but Cooney was more focused on those who took to the field.

"Some lads got a few minutes there towards the end, they'll be delighted to get a few minutes, they've put in a number of weeks of work and they just want to play for Westmeath," he said.

"Of the lads that took the pitch today, all 25 or 26 of them, I'm delighted with their attitude, and the fellas coming back in, they need to lead these young lads through the next few weeks and months."

Scorers - Offaly: B Allen 0-8fs; J Hayes and C Farrell (0-1 mark) 0-2 each; R McNamee (f), P Dunican (f), C Mangan and C Johnson 0-1 each. Westmeath: Callum McCormack 0-5 (3f); L Dolan and Conor McCormack (1f) 0-2 each; L Loughlin (f), A Neary 0-1 each.

OFFALY - P Dunican; D Dempsey, E Rigney, N Darby; E Carroll, S Nally, J Hayes; M Brazil, C Mangan; J Dempsey, R McNamee, C McNamee; C Johnson, B Allen, A Sullivan. Subs: C Donohoe for J Dempsey (h-t), R McEvoy for C McNamee (49), B Darby for S Nally (54), C Farrell for A Sullivan (58), A Leavy for (M Brazil (61), C Donnelly for R McNamee (67).

WESTMEATH - J Daly; R Wallace, B Sayeh, K Maguire; K Daly, C Slevin, A McGivney; D Corroon, N Mulligan; N O'Reilly, J Dolan, D Lynch; L Dolan, Callum McCormack, Conor McCormack. Subs: A Neary for N O'Reilly (H/T), C Coughlan for N Mulligan (h-t), A Stone for Conor McCormack (58), L Loughlin for L Dolan (61), E Carberry for J Daly (66), C Dillon for A McGivney (68), S Connolly for C Slevin (70), N Scally for Callum McCormack (70+4).

ReF - D Fedigan (Louth)

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