Connecticut booked their passage into the Senior Hurling playoffs Sunday at Gaelic Park with a decisive victory against an Offaly side that lacked the firepower to seriously threaten the suburbanites.
Connecticut had a match winner in half forward Fergus Flynn, who showed his intentions with a fine point from a severe angle to open the scoring after only 30 seconds. Connecticut threatened to break open the game early when Declan Ryan got behind the Offaly defense only to be pulled down by keeper Alan Gleason.
Gleason then made a fine stop on the ensuing penalty. The Offaly number six, Niall Marshall, picked up the rebound, starting an Offaly counter attack that resulted in Paul Carroll’s equalizing point. When Marshall drove over a long-range free, Offaly had a surprising, albeit short-lived lead.
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Fergus Flynn soon equalized, and then fired home a fine goal to put Connecticut back on top. Once ahead, Connecticut pressed their advantage, scoring a succession of points to lead 1-8 to 0-4 at the midway point.
Perhaps it was the stifling August heat, but neither team could get much going on the resumption. Both sides remained scoreless until Sean Nolan finally pointed for Offaly in the eleventh minute.
Seven more minutes ticked off before another flag was raised, this time for Connecticut. Substitute Aiden Power was the marksman for Connecticut and the lead went to 1-9 to 0-5. Alan Gleason kept Offaly’s hopes alive with some heroics in the goal but he couldn’t keep Flynn from adding a second goal, and then completing the hat trick just as the buzzer was about to sound.
Flynn’s final goal, while leading 2-12 to 0-8, was an unnecessary but emphatic exclamation point on what in the end was a routine Connecticut victory.
Man of the Match: Fergus Flynn.
Connecticut: Donal Leahy, Aiden Kelly, Phil Wickham, Tom Foy, Richie Purcell, Diarmud O’Halloran, Fintan O’Shea (0-1), Ollie O’Neill, Conor O’Keane (0-3), Fergus Flynn (3-4), Keith Hennessey, Declan Ryan (0-1), John O’Mahoney (0-1). Subs: Mark Comerford (0-1), Aiden Power (0-2), Brian McGuire, Maurice Crowe.
Offaly: Alan Gleason, John Hanlon (0-3), Chris Willis, Brian Delaney, Niall Marshall (0-1), Eamon Coleman, Sean Nolan (0-1), Dermot Turley, Paul Carroll (0-3), Trevor Kelly, Eamon Keefe, Ollie Murphy, Dave Reynolds. Subs: Tom Furlong, Ken Furlong, Brendan Moran.