Offaly hurling plunges to new low as Kerry win condemns Faithful county to relegation to Christy Ring Cup
Kerry 1-18 Offaly 1-16
Offaly's sensational fall from grace was completed when Kerry sentenced the Faithful to relegation from the Joe McDonagh Cup with a two-point victory in Austin Stack Park this afternoon.
Twenty-one years after claiming the last of their four All-Ireland SHC titles, Offaly were demoted to hurling's third tier and left facing into an abyss by a superior Kingdom outfit.
Offaly started like a house on fire with the wind at their backs and hit the first four points of the game through Eoghan Cahill, Shane Dooley (free), Cillian Kiely and Kevin Connolly.
Joachim Kelly's men were hit with a hammer blow in the seventh minute though, when wing forward Peter Geraghty was dismissed for an off the ball strike on Daniel Collins.
Shane Conway got Kerry off the mark in the tenth minute and there was another game-defining moment when Dooley spurned a penalty minutes later as John B O'Halloran got down low to his right to save.
A pair of Conway frees had them within one point before Sean Cleary got a much-needed score for Offaly, although it was all Kerry as they utilised the extra man and worked the ball smartly up the pitch.
Jack Goulding, Patrick Kelly and Conway (two frees) fired the home side ahead as they began to dominate proceedings and looked particularly dangerous up front.
Dooley fired over an injury-time free to leave just one it but Padraig Boyle would have the last laugh of the opening half as he fired past Cahill to the Offaly net having been played in beautifully by Conway, 1-7 to 0-6 at the break.
When Dooley fired a 39th minute goal to leave one in it, 1-8 to 1-7, it looked like an Offaly comeback was on the cards but that was the closest they could get.
Conway, and his namesake Jordan, kept Fintan O'Connor's Kerry ticking over in the second half as they saw out the game and maintained their place in the McDonagh Cup for 2020.
SCORERS – Offaly: S Dooley 1-6 (6f), S Cleary 0-4, E Cahill 0-2f, J Gorman, J Bergin, K Connolly, C Kiely 0-1 each.
Kerry: S Conway 0-11f, P Boyle 1-1, J Conway, C Harty 0-2 each, J Goulding, P Kelly 0-1 each.
OFFALY – E Cahill; N Houlihan, B Conneely, M Egan; D Egan, C Kiely, E Parlon; S Kinsella, C Gath; S Cleary, D Gath, P Geraghty; K Connolly, O Kelly, S Dooley.
Subs: J Bergin for D Gath (24), D Nally for C Gath (half-time), J Gorman for Kinsella (48), S Dolan for Connolly (57).
KERRY – JB O'Halloran; J O'Connor, B Murphy, S Weir; D Goggin, M Boyle, D Collins; J Buckley, T O'Connor; M O'Leary, S Conway, P Kelly; P Boyle, J Conway, J Goulding.
Subs: C Harty for D Goggin (half-time), M Slattery for Goulding (72)
REF – C Lyons (Cork)