By John Markey
Deteriorating playing conditions didn’t leave a very favorable surface for hurling, but the junior hurlers of Offaly and Galway coped admirably at Gaelic Park on Sunday, with Offaly getting the upper hand, 2-8 to 1-5.
Offaly have been a major force at this grade for quite some time and with Waterford making the transition to the senior ranks, the Leinster side will be favorites for honors this year. With an experienced panel at their disposal they have come to field a familiar thirteen, which in the months to come will prove to be a formidable obstacle.
Galway benefitted from several pre-season transfers and in only their second year back in competition have shown significant improvement. With Owen Cummins at the heart of their defense, better times lie ahead for the Westerners. Galway, however, fell short, despite their early promise when they held the advantage but their lack of experience was evident in the second half.
It was Galway who struck first with Jim Walsh netting in the opening minutes and Mike Tierney quickly followed with a point. It took Offaly some time to respond but a succession of unanswered points had restored the parity by the interval.
On the resumption of play, several terrible Galway defensive errors were punished. Paddy Hogan was on hand, twice, to fire to the net and swing things Offaly’s way. In the ensuing minutes Galway failed to close the gap and at the conclusion of the hour it was a welcome victory for Offaly.
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Enda Condron, Sean Nolan, Eamon Coleman, Donal Miller and Paddy Hogan were best for Offaly with Gerry Kennelly, Joe Boyd, Owen Cummins, Eamon Shiels and Paul Caldwell trying hard for Galway.
Offaly scorers: P. Hogan 2-0, D. Miller 0-2, E. Coleman 0-2, D. Reynolds 0-2, S. Donahue and E. Condron both 0-1.
Galway: J. Walsh 1-0, E. Shiels 0-2, M. Tierney, G. Egan and O. Cummins, all 0-1.