Offaly secured their Division One status in the Allianz National Hurling League after a hard fought victory over Wexford in Tullamore on Sunday afternoon.
Despite a disappointing league campaign, yesterday’s win should be enough to keep the Faithful County in the top flight for another season and they can now turn their attentions towards the championship. Unless Wexford can take points from their remaining two matches against Cork and Tipperary then Joe Dooley’s side are safe.
There was little between the two sides in Tullamore yesterday and they were level seven times in the first half. Either side could have taken the points and looked like doing so at different times. Wexford had the edge after 38 minutes when Jim Berry scored a goal to give them the advantage before Offaly hit back through Derek Molloy.
Despite having a man sent off, Offaly proved just the stronger and seemed to want it more in the closing minutes of the game.
“When we went down to 14 men it wasn’t easy. But the lads dug deep. We were fierce determined today, and I think as the ground gets better we hurl better. So I’m delighted for the lads. We worked hard and got what we deserved,” said boss Dooley.
“It is tough to get out of Division Two. Potentially if we lost today and did not stay up, there are fellows that might not hurl Division One again, just because of a small bit of misfortune. But I am sure that the higher authorities will be looking at it in due course.”
Wexford manager Colm Bonnar has not yet given up all hope of staying in the top tier:
“We need to get ourselves back up again. We are playing Cork in Wexford Park next Sunday. It is a case that we need to keep fighting until the very last league game and then we look at the league board and see where we are positioned. Obviously, it does put us in a more difficult situation now. This was a vital game because of the head-to-head rule. We had a couple of bad wides, and periods to get back level or go one point ahead. . . . To be fair to Offaly they took their chance.”
Offaly: J Dempsey; S Egan, D Kenny, D Franks; M Verney, R Hanniffy, D Morkan; C Mahon, D Hayden; B Carroll, G Healion (0-1), D Molloy (1-1); D Currams, J Bergin (0-2), S Dooley (1-10, 0-8 frees, 0-1 65). Subs : C Egan (0-1) for Currams (11 mins), M Cordial for Carroll (64 mins), J Mulrooney for Molloy (70 mins).
Wexford : N Carton; P Roche (0-1, free), M O’Hanlon, K Rossiter; L Prendergast, D Stamp, C Kenny; D Redmond (0-3), H Kehoe (0-1); PJ Nolan (0-3), E Quigley, S Banville (0-1); R Jacob (0-3), T Waters, J Berry (1-4, 0-4 frees). Subs : C Farrell for Quigley (48 mins), B Doyle for Waters (54 mins), M Jacob for Banville (64 mins).
Referee: A Stapleton (Laois).