Ace Bergin leads from the front to fire Faithful past Antrim
OFFALY collected two hard-earned points in Tullamore yesterday as they edged out a stubborn and spirited Antrim by five points.
Having cruised in the first period, Offaly played second fiddle to Antrim for parts of the second half, but the scoring prowess of Brendan Murphy and Shane Dooley made sure the Faithful men hung on.
Having surrendered a nine-point lead with five minutes to go last week in Wexford, Offaly threatened to do the same as Antrim piled forward. However, the outstanding Joe Bergin took no prisoners to lead from the front and steer Offaly home.
Shane McNaughton was the main scoring threat for the Saffrons, but they lacked a second talisman similar to Offaly's attacking force.
Dooley was awesome from frees, hitting ten points -- as well as a well-taken goal -- as Offaly regained momentum in the push for promotion.
Offaly controlled most of the opening half and, despite McNaughton and Neil McManus keeping Antrim in touch, Offaly pulled away comfortably. Colin Egan laid on Dooley for a ninth-minute goal to give the home side a 1-12 to 0-2 cushion that they built on throughout the half.
Bergin closed out the half with a super score and the Faithful County went in 1-12 to 0-6 up at the break.
Offaly continued where they left off with Dooley firing over the frees at the start of the second half. But Antrim's spirit came to the fore and, driven on by McManus, they clawed their way back into the game.
Substitute Declan Lynch scored a scrappy goal with 10 minutes to go to leave it 1-17 to 1-13, but Offaly hung on with Brendan Murphy firing over the insurance points.
Man Of Match: J Bergin (Offaly)
SCORERS -- Offaly: S Dooley 1-10 (10 f), J Bergin
0-4, B Murphy 0-3, C Mahon, J Mulrooney 0-2 each, R Hanniffy 0-1; Antrim: S McNaughton 0-10 (8f, 1 '65'), D Lynch 1-0, N McManus (1 '65'), PJ O'Connell, P Shields 0-2 each, M Herron 0-1.
OFFALY -- J Dempsey 6; C McDonald 6, D Kenny 7, D Franks 6; D Morkan 7, R Hanniffy 7, S Wynne 6; D Mooney 6, D Horan 7; J Bergin 9, C Mahon 7, B Murphy 8; S Dooley 8, C Egan 7, J Mulrooney 7. Subs: J Rigney 7 (for Mooney 25), S Coughlan 6 (for Wynne 48), S Ryan 6 (for Mulrooney 54), G Healion 6 (for Egan 60), B Harding (for Morkan 69).
ANTRIM -- S McToal 7; K McGourty 7, C Donnelly 8, A Graffin 6; N McAuley 6, N McManus 8, S McCrory 7; K Stewart 7, M Gettens 7; S McLoughlin 6, M Herron 6, D Hamill 6; S McNaughton 8, C McFall 6, PJ O' Connell 8. Subs: P Shields 8 (for McLoughlin h-t), D Lynch 7(for McFall h-t), B McFall 6 (for Hamill 58).
REF -- J Ryan (Tipperary).