Thursday 23 January 2020

Offaly set up O'Byrne Cup final clash with Longford after overcoming Westmeath

Offaly 0-16 Westmeath 0-11

11 January 2020; Michael Brazil of Offaly in action against Noel Mulligan 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; Michael Brazil of Offaly in action against Noel Mulligan 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 will take on Longford in the O’Byrne Cup final next Saturday as John Maughan’s men got the better of Westmeath in a disappointing and timid local derby in Tullamore.

Offaly led by one point at half time despite playing against the wind as they showed more attacking class throughout the game.

Westmeath had to do without the services of their two star forwards – John Heslin and Kieran Martin - who were withdrawn injured before the game and their absence was evident in their play.

Bernard Allen was on song for Offaly with eight pointed frees from eight shots while their more direct style proved the winning formula.

John Maughan made no secret at the start of the year that he wanted to have a crack at the O’Byrne Cup and get as many competitive games as possible, sighting that Cork in their first league game was a massive opener for his charges.

Conditions were tough in Tullamore and the opening half was error-ridden. With scores at a premium, Offaly held the slenderest of half time leads despite their forward line failing to score from play.

Both were reliant on their free takers with Bernard Allen kicking three in the opening half while Callum McCormack hit a brace for Westmeath.

After an early exchange of frees, Callum McCormack fisted over a point when he could have went for goal but there was little or nothing between the sides right through the half.

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Both sides spurned goal chances with Jordan Hayes and Lorcan Dolan guilty 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 strong through and three points on the spin from Paddy Dunican (free), Cathal Mangan and Jordan Hayes left the home side 0-8 to 0-7 at the break.

The second half continued in much the same vein and while Westmeath failed to score in the opening 18 minutes of the second half, Offaly kicked on, opened up a cushion and put the game to bed.

Offaly hit five points, four from the trusty boot of Bernard Allen as they led 0-13 to 0-7 with 17 minutes left.

Westmeath needed a goal to grab themselves a lifeline but they couldn’t make any significant inroads through the Offaly rearguard as they lacked attacking creativity.

Adam Neary made a difference for Westmeath when introduced and he was on target as Westmeath got it back to a three-point game with 13 minutes to go.

Offaly closed out the final 10 minutes well with Allen kicking his ninth free while substitute Cian Farrell kicked two points, the latter from a mark, as they won out comfortably by five points.

Scorers: Offaly – B Allen 0-8 frees, J Hayes and C Farrell (0-1 mark) 0-2 each, R McNamee (free), P Dunican (free), C Mangan and C Johnson 0-1 each.

Westmeath – Callum McCormack 0-5 (0-3f), L Dolan and Conor McCormack (0-1f) 0-2 each, L Loughlin (free), 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 (49m), B Darby for S Nally (54m), C Farrell for A Sullivan (58m), A Leavy for (M Brazil (61m), C Donnelly for R McNamee (67m).

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 (58m), L Loughlin for L Dolan (61m), E Carberry for J Daly (66m), C Dillon for A McGivney (68m), S Connolly for C Slevin (70m), N Scally for Callum McCormack (70+4m).

Referee: David Fedigan (Louth)

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