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MFC: Wicklow 1-9 Offaly 3-7
Aughrim – 16/4/2011
Referee: Fergal Barry (Kildare)
Wicklow will ponder what could have been after a spirited fight back in the second half fell short this afternoon against an Offaly side they dominated after the break. Alan O’Brien reports from Aughrim.
Playing conditions were perfect for this Saturday afternoon Leinster Championship opener with the rain staying away and only a light breeze to tickle the supporters at the Wicklow County ground. Wicklow were set on their way by Bray Emmets man Adam Conway who pointed from a free as the Garden County set about their task. Hugh Kenny’s men were well on top in the opening exchanges and a Brendan McCrea point put them back into the lead after the visitors had levelled the tie. However Offaly were boosted by Gallen’s All-Ireland Vocational schools success in Croke Park last weekend and seven of that side – Conor Lowry, Ciaran Cahill, Joe Maher, Aaron McDonagh, Brian Grehan, Eoin Lowry and Darragh Corbett were part of this panel so they were not about to be panicked by Wicklow’s possession. Conor Lowry at full back was the outstanding player for the Faithful County as he wiped out Wicklow’s early treats. A host of possession for the home side failed to materialise into scores and Offaly who had been second best in the opening ten minutes seized on Wicklow’s wastefulness to score a goal with the last touch coming off unfortunate Wicklow corner back Gavin Burke. Adam Conway again replied for Wicklow but a second Offaly goal really stopped the home side in their tracks. Colin Smullen in the Wicklow goal kept the tie alive with a great stop which denied Offaly a quick hat-trick of goals and the resulting ’45 was sent to the left and wide of the scoreboard end goal. Peter Cunningham in at corner forward for Offaly was doing huge damage to the Wicklow full back line and Gavin Burke was called ashore and replaced by John Murphy after a tough outing where he was second best to his man. Despite his earlier heroics Smullen in the Wicklow goal was not strong enough to stop Wicklow conceded another green flag and after Wicklow’s early possession the score at half time read a glum Offaly 3-2 to Wicklow’s 0-4.
Wicklow sent on Jamie Snell for Daniel Keane at half time and the initial signs were good for Hugh Kenny’s charges with a couple of Conway frees helping to claw back Offaly’s lead. It took John Ryans Offaly side 23 minutes of the second half to register a score but three points in the final ten minutes turned out to be enough to see them home as Wicklow failed to take their chances. A late Nicky Sweeney penalty for Wicklow put a kinder slant on the final score but in truth four missed second half frees, poor defending in the first half and a lack of scores from play had already sealed the Garden Counties faith.
Final score Wicklow 1-9 Offaly 3-7
More photos to follow