Maher leads Tipp romp to leave Offaly struggling to escape drop
Offaly need to win two of their remaining three matches to avoid relegation. That was the verdict from manager Joe Dooley yesterday after his team slumped to a fourth defeat in four outings.
Their next game has now become a winner-takes-all relegation showdown against fellow strugglers Wexford on Sunday, March 27. The Faithful County will have home advantage in Tullamore, but that won't help much if they produce a second-half performance similar to yesterday's.
At half-time, Offaly were still in with a shout as they trailed by four points at 0-8 to 1-9.
But the visitors in Nenagh registered just two points in the entire second half, both within seven minutes of the restart, as Tipp cantered to a second successive win.
"We were against a bit of a breeze and Tipp were strong but it's not good enough -- we need to be scoring more and it's something we'll have to look at," admitted Dooley.
"We have Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny left. We have to win two of those, but the Wexford one is a very important game.
"We're still down a lot of players and there's no sign of any of them coming back soon, but we'll keep working ahead. We have lots of good hurlers, they're working hard and things will come right; I'm confident that they will."
It was too easy for Tipperary on a day when midfielders Brendan Maher and Gearóid Ryan hit 1-5 from play between them.
Benny Dunne bagged 0-4 while Pa Bourke's impressive form continued as he hit 0-7, four from play, while John O'Keeffe and Paul Curran excelled defensively.
There were few reasons to be positive from Offaly's perspective, but Dooley was encouraged by the returns of long-term injury victims David Franks and Daniel Currams.
Tipp, meanwhile, lost the services of captain Eoin Kelly after just five minutes with a badly-damaged finger.
His replacement, Shane Bourke, helped himself to three second half points, while 2010 Hurler of the Year Lar Corbett made his seasonal bow as a half-time substitute.
Man of the match: Brendan Maher (Tipp).
Scorers -- Tipperary: P Bourke 0-7 (0-3f), B Dunne, B Maher 0-4 each, G Ryan 1-1, S Bourke 0-3, J O'Keeffe 0-1. Offaly: B Carroll 0-4f, M Cordial, J Bergin 0-2 each, D Currams, C Egan 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY -- B Cummins 7; E Connolly 7, P Curran 8, M Cahill 7; P Stapleton 7, D Young 5, J O'Keeffe 8; G Ryan 8, B Maher 9; B Dunne 8, N McGrath 6, P Maher 7; P Kelly 5, E Kelly n/a, P Bourke 8. Subs: S Bourke 7 for E Kelly (inj, 5), J Woodlock 6 for Connolly, L Corbett 6 for P Kelly, J Coghlan 7 for Young (all h-t), S Carey 6 for McGrath (63).
OFFALY -- J Dempsey 6; S Egan 6, D Kenny 7, D Franks 6; M Verney 6, R Hanniffy 6, D Morkan 6; D Hayden 6, C Mahon 6; M Cordial 6, J Bergin 6, C Egan 5; B Carroll 6, D Currams 6, O Kealey 5. Subs: J Mulrooney 5 for Kealey (28), C Parlon 5 for Egan (51), K Connolly n/a for Cordial (67), S Kelly n/a for Mahon (68), S Wynne n/a for Hayden (70+1).
REF -- J McGrath (Westmeath).