Offaly see off Tipp on emotional day in Thurles while Saffrons hand Cavan first loss

March 18, 2023

Offaly's Anton Sullivan with Teddy Doyle of Tipperary ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Offaly put aside a difficult couple of days to overcome Tipperary by 2-14 to 0-13 in Thurles and remain in the hunt for promotion in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League.

Following the sudden and tragic death of Offaly manager Liam Kearns last Sunday, an emotional tribute was paid to the Kerry native, whom also guided Tipp to the 2016 All-Ireland SFC semi-final, before throw-in at Semple Stadium.

It was the hosts that started the game in better fashion to hold a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after 13 minutes before Offaly got motoring via points from Bernard Allen, Ruairi McNamee and Nigel Dunne, and they’d eventually kick on towards a 0-9 to 0-7 half-time lead.

The points of Conor Cadell and Mark Russell helped to keep the winless Premier men right in contention throughout the second-half until Ruairi McNamee hammered in a goal in injury-time and another from Anton Sullivan sealed the deal for Offaly while confirming Tipp’s demotion back to Division 4 for next year.

In west Belfast, Andy McEntee’s Antrim slumped promotion favourites Cavan to their first loss of the Division 3 campaign.

It finished 1-17 to 2-12 at Corrigan Park, where the visitors came close to pulling off a sensational comeback with late goals from Conor Madden and Paddy Lynch but they ended up being in vain.

Antrim's Odhran Eastwood and Conor Moynagh of Cavan ©INPHO/John McVitty

The Saffrons had done most of the damage in the opening half, with Conor Murray’s goal on five minutes igniting them early on and they’d push towards a comfortable 1-7 to 0-4 lead at the interval.

The home side got points early in the restart from Patrick McBride (2) and Odhran Eastwood to open up a 10-point margin and it proved just enough to edge out Mickey Graham’s charges in the end.

Meanwhile, Fermanagh kept their promotion bid firmly on track with a 0-15 to 2-8 win over Westmeath at Brewster Park.

Full-back Lee Cullen struck the point in injury-time that helped secured the Ernesiders’ fifth win of the campaign which sees them joining Cavan on 10 points at the top of the table ahead of the two neighbouring counties’ meeting at Kingspan Breffni tomorrow week.

Kieran Donnelly’s men had bossed proceedings in the opening half to lead by 0-9 to 0-4 at the break and would stretch it to seven after the turnaround thanks to the points of Ryan Lyons (free), Darragh McGurn and Ultan Kelm.

Chasing promotion themselves, the Lake men hit back with quickfire goals from full-back Kevin Maguire and David Lynch but still couldn’t get out in front and Cullen’s injury-point would prove the difference between the sides in the end.

The day’s later game saw Down registering a 1-19 to 1-14 win against Longford in Newry to maintain their own promotion chase.

The sides were all square at the halfway stage (0-9 to 1-6) and, after the visitors kept with their opponents throughout most of the second-half, it was Liam Kerr’s penalty that finally killed off the game for the Mourne men.

The result also sees Longford joining Tipperary in Division 4 football for 2024.  

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