O’Byrne Cup senior football, Round 3
Offaly 0-11 Dublin 0-8
By Paul Keane
An early season scalp taken by Offaly, a significant shot in the arm for the new Liam Kearns regime.
A brave performance in rain sodden conditions from the visiting Faithful ended with victory, their second on the spin in the O’Byrne Cup, and ultimately progression to a semi-final clash with Louth on Sunday.
Kearns will keep the win in perspective, Dublin essentially went with a development panel that comprised largely of U-21 talent from the last three years.
But any win over the Dubs, particularly in the capital, is always to be savoured and not even Anton Sullivan’s late red card for a second booking could dampen the occasion.
Experienced Sulivan kicked two points though Dylan Hyland was the chief scorer with five points as 2020 finalists Offaly moved a step closer to their first title since 1998.
For Dublin, the O’Byrne Cup holders, the pre-season competition is over and they will return to action at nearby Croke Park on January 28 for a Division 2 Allianz NFL clash with Kildare.
Dublin went with two thirds of the team that started the Round 1 win over Wicklow last Wednesday.
Sean MacMahon, who came on against Kerry in last July’s All-Ireland semi-final, started in defence while Conor Tyrrell, Kevin Lahiff, Harry Ladd and 2021 Championship starter Peadar O Cofaigh Byrne got the nod too.
But Dublin looked sluggish initially and struggled to impose themselves on the game as they had in the second-half of the win over Wicklow in Baltinglass.
O’Gara, fresh from his 1-4 against Wicklow, was their principal attacking threat again and scored three first-half points though two of those were from placed balls and his 27th minute score was Dublin’s only from play in the half.
Alex Wright started his second game in succession though a couple of wasted passes from the St Sylvester’s man summed up a low key opening from the hosts.
The conditions worsened as the evening wore on with incessant rain making handling particularly difficult.
Offaly looked more interested in getting down and dirty and Nigel Dunne’s 16th minute score, when he secured possession of a loose ball among a ruck of players and split the posts for his team’s second score, summed up their endeavour.
Hyland swung over three first-half points too while the effervescent Sullivan, a Tailteann Cup All-Star in 2022, scored one and created another for Hyland.
Worryingly for Offaly, Peter Cunningham, who impressed in last weekend’s five-point win over Wicklow, having missed all of the 2022 season due to army duty, came off with an apparent injury late in the first-half.
They still carried a 0-5 to 0-3 advantage into the interval and increased it to a double scores lead when Hyland registered his fourth point after the restart.
Dublin surged clear of Wicklow in the third quarter and the hope was that they would do the same again but the anticipated comeback never materialised.
Greg McEneaney from the Skerries club pinched a tidy point and Colm Basquel opened his account for the evening with a converted free but Dublin needed more.
They got the margin back to a point at the start of the final quarter but that was as good as it got for the Sky Blues as Offaly gradually pulled clear.
Points from Sullivan and Dunne stretched the gap to three and the margin was out to four when sub Bernard Allen drilled another over in stoppage time.
Offaly scorers: Dylan Hyland 0-5 (0-3f), Nigel Dunne 0-2, Anton Sullivan 0-2, Joe Maher 0-1 (0-1f), Bernard Allen 0-1
Dublin scorers: Killian O’Gara 0-4 (0-1f, 0-1m), Colm Basquel 0-2 (0-2f), Greg McEneaney 0-1, Ben Millist 0-1.
Offaly: Ian Duffy; Ciaran Donnelly, Declan Hogan, David Dempsey; Lee Pearson, Peter Cunningham, Cian Donohoe; Kevin Nugent, Jack McEvoy; Shane O’Toole Greene, Ruairi McNamee, Luke Egan; Nigel Dunne, Anton Sullivan, Dylan Hyland.
Subs: Conor McNamee for Cunningham 30, Ruairi O’Neill for O’Toole Greene h/t, Bernard Allen for Dunne 51, Joe Maher for O’Neill 55, Ed Cullen for Nugent 61, Diarmuid Egan for R McNamee 63, Cormac Delaney for L Egan 65, Mark Abbott for Hyland 72.
Dublin: Hugh O’Sullivan; Conor Tyrrell, Sean MacMahon, Daire Newcombe; Adam Fearon, Greg McEneaney, CJ Smith; Peadar O Cofaigh Byrne, Adam Waddick; Kevin Lahiff, Alex Wright, Colm Basquel; Harry Ladd, Brian O’Leary, Killian O’Gara.
Subs: David Byrne for Smith h/t, Ben Millist for Lahiff 44, Darragh Conlon for McMahon 47, Luke Breathnach for Wright 47, Karl Lynch Bissett for Waddick 59, Sean Kinsella for O’Leary 61, Peter Duffy for O Cofaigh Byrne 63, Sean Lambe for Fearon 63, Dillon Keating for Ladd 64, Paudie White for Tyrrell 69.
Referee: Kieran Olwell (Meath).