Brian Barry reports from Croke Park…
Pat Gilroy’s first League game as Dublin manager saw his side pitted against Offaly this evening at Croke Park, as the Dubs aimed to kick off their Allianz National Hurling League campaign with a win. However, a spirited Offaly side hadn’t read the script, as bookmakers and punters alike had written them off.
The Faithful County put in a barnstorming performance right from the off, and silenced the Hill 16 crowd, winning out by a resounding 13 points.
Offaly put daylight between the sides early on with a string of well-worked points. Indeed, were it not for two impressive saves by Alan Nolan from Oisín Kelly shots, the scoreboard would have made for far grimmer reading for Pat Gilroy at half-time.
Indeed, it was a far more efficient Faithful performance than anything we have seen in recent years, as Shane Kinsella, Colin Egan and Daniel Currams kept the umpires busy raising white flags.
A Paul Winters goal against the run of play after an impressive run from Shane Barrett kept the Boys in Blue within touch, as they trailed by five points at the break.
The former All-Ireland Football Championship winning boss clearly saw that his side were on the back foot early on, as he called Fionn Ó Riain Broin ashore to unleash the more experienced Eamonn Dillon in the first half.
Indeed, Dillon set Dublin on the right track after the break, immediately breaking forward to raise a white flag. The Naomh Fionbarra star threatened, as ball after ball was sent into him.
However, momentum quickly swung again as Shane Dooley converted a penalty to put seven points between the sides, and that breathed real fire into the Faithful challenge.
Ballyboden St Enda’s duo Niall McMorrow and Conal Keaney were sprung from the bench as Gilroy aimed to reel the Faithful in, but try as they might, Offaly kept the scores coming, in no small part thanks to substitute Dooley from placed balls.
The introduction of Liam Langton for Offaly proved to be an inspirational decision, as he rounded Nolan to fire into the net with his first touch of the game, and give his side a nine-point cushion.
That lead proved to be unassailable, as Offaly won out 2-25 to 1-15.
Donal Burke 0-06 (0-05 frees), Paul Winters 1-01, Alan Moore 0-02, Chris Crummey 0-01, Niall McMorrow 0-01, Eamonn Dillon 0-01, John Hetherton 0-01, Fergal Whitely 0-01, Ronan Smith 0-01.
Shane Dooley 1-05 (0-04 frees, 1-00 penalty), Joseph Bergin 0-05 (0-04 frees, 0-01 65), Colin Egan 0-03, Oisin Kelly 0-03 (0-01 side-line), Liam Langton 1-0, Shane Kinsella 0-03, Daniel Currams 0-02, Dermot Shortt 0-02.
1. Alan Nolan
2. Paddy Smith
3. Bill O’Carroll
4. Cian Hendricken
5. Shane Barrett
6. Cian McBride
7. Chris Crummey
8. John McCaffrey
9. Tomás Connolly
10. Donal Burke
11. Fergal Whitely
12. Ronan Smith
13. Alan Moore
14. Paul Winters
15. Fionn Ó Riain Broin
Fionn Ó Riain Broin replaced by Eamonn Dillon (26th minute)
John McCaffrey replaced by Niall McMorrow (40th minute)
Alan Moore replaced by Conal Keaney (47th minute)
Paul Winters replaced by John Hetherton (54th minute)
Cian Hendricken replaced by James Madden (66th minute)
1. Conor Slevin
2. Thomas Spain
3. Sean Gardiner
4. Ben Coneely
5. Patrick Delaney
6. Patrick Camon
7. Dermot Shortt
8. David King
9. Shane Kinsella
10. Joseph Bergin
11. Colin Egan
12. Damien Egan
13. Oisin Kelly
14. Conor Mahon
15. Daniel Currams
Joseph Bergin replaced by Shane Dooley (half-time)
Colin Egan replaced by Thomas Geraghty (53rd minute)
Conor Mahon replaced by Liam Langton (63rd minute)
Ben Conneelly replaced by David O’Toole (71st minute)
Patrick Delaney replaced by Daniel Doughan (73rd minute)