The junior A hurling championship commenced on sunny Saturday afternoon with a slight breeze making conditions quite pleasant. There were goals aplenty, and after falling behind and chasing for the rest of the game, Sean Og’s almost got themselves back into it in the second half with 2 Matty Duane goals as the tempo picked up pace in the final quarter. Offaly had the marksmanship of Jack Murray and Evan Campbell to thank, as well as a late flurry of Mike Lennon scores, for keeping their noses ahead as Sean Og’s made their late run.
Eoin Morrissey on the Run for Sean Og's
The biggest difference between the teams in the opening 30 minutes was accuracy. Offaly made more of their chances, and while Sean Og’s linked up quite well at times along with some solid running from Eoin Morissey down the middle, but the final effort was off the mark more frequently than they would have liked. Mike Lennon got an early goal for Offaly, and the sturdy number 12 at corner forward was always a danger when the ball was in his hand. Sean Og’s answered with the powerful Matty Duane answering in kind, and we had a game on.
Jack Murray was the man who kept the scoreboard moving for Offaly through frees or open play. Sean O’Shaughnessy in midfield also kept the ball moving for Offaly, and with scores from Lennon and O’Shaughnessy there was a 5 point gap at the break, 1-8 to 1-3 in favor of the faithful. Ciaran Flanagan, Dylan Coyne and Duane had pointed to keep the youngsters in touch.
Simon Sinnott Clears for Offaly
The second half saw Offaly threaten to pull away, but Duane’s powerful finishes kept them reined in. Three points on the trot, 2 from Murray and one from Campbell, after play restarted were pulled back in one whip of the stick from Duane. After Coyne narrowed the gap to 4 points with a well taken effort, Offaly again stretched the lead through Pat Murray and Campbell points. Again, the scores were canceled out but a Duane rocket into the back of the net. Sean Og’s were starting to look like they could pull it out of the hat in the last 15 minutes.
With the game on the line coming into the final quarter the intensity ratcheted up a bit, and with Offaly having two players hobbled, one at either end of the field, there was a chance for Sean Og’s to turn the lead. Keeper Daragh Kealy and corner forward Ciaran Lynch each lame with injuries, but played on out of necessity. After Jack Murray scored a point worthy of the highest level of the game from distance, two Aidan O’Malley frees again reduced the gap to a goal. It was corner forward Lennon who was key for Offaly in the late stages with a point followed by a goal. Lennon was first to the rebound off a Jack Murray shot to net and seemingly secure the points. Sean Og’s did not down tools and continued to keep up the pressure, and scored a late goal from Ciaran Flanagan, but it was just too late to turn the tables and first points of the 2022 season go to the Offaly men.
Offaly 2-16 Sean Og’s 4-7
Sean Og’s: Aidan Joyce, Aidan Flanagan, Colm O’Malley, John O’Doherty, Eoin Morissey, Eamon Kelly, Aidan O’Malley, Matty Duane, Ciaran Flanagan, Dylan Coyne, Michael Winston, Brendan Smith, Brian Cahill, Conor Smith, Niall O’Malley. Offaly: Darragh Kealy, Jack Lynch, Simon Sinnott, Jack Murray, Cathal Hayes, Tom Lind, Ciaran Lynch, Sean O’Shaughnessy, Marty Gallagher, Evan Campbell, Pat Murray, Kevin Larkin, Mike Lennon, Ciaran Lynch.
By Rory O'Donnell