By Mike Fitzpatrick
Kerry 3-9, Offaly 0-13
At times, this was a messy senior football B encounter, with minor scuffles breaking out on the pitch at different stages of the game. In the end, however, Kerry emerged victors in a game in which both sides held the lead at various times.
Offaly were fortunate to have a one man scoring sensation in Dave Reynolds, who opened the scoring early on in the first half. Hitting a few early points for his side, he was matched by efforts from Kerry’s Mike Carmody, Denis Dwyer and Seamus Harkan who hit a goal from the penalty spot to level off the tie.
The first half was a very close affair, with neither side willing or able to enforce their presence over the other.
At half time, the score was level at seven points apiece.
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The second period opened with more of the same with both sides snatching leads only to be pulled back by their opponents.
Reynolds knocked in a few more points for his side to move Westmeath ahead, albeit temporarily, as Harkan scored his second goal of the afternoon to cancel out Offaly’s point scoring.
Robbie Dowd in the Kerry goal made a fine stop on the line from Brendan Moran, which looked sure to go over for Offaly’s first goal of the afternoon. Minutes later, his opposing number in the Offaly goal, Kieran Farrelly, appeared to have kept his side in the tie with a great dive save to thwart the Kerry attack.
It wasn’t enough, however, as minutes later Willie O’Donnell hit home a goal to give Kerry a lead which they would not relinquish.
In the final 15 minutes, Paddy Mulvihill hit another couple of points for his side to give Kerry the edge and, despite more scores from Offaly’s Paul Glennon, and you guessed it Dave Reynolds, it was not to be enough.
John Sexton hit the last point of the afternoon to give Kerry an important five point win.
Despite the occasional clashes between players, it was an exciting game, with only the latter stages of the second half providing a glimpse to the eventual obvious winner of the tie, as before Kerry’s brace of goals in the mid to late stages of the second half, there was never more than a point or two between the sides.
Kerry: Robbie Dowd, Peter Riney, Paul Gallivan, Paul Dillon, Paddy Connor, Johnny Driscoll, Louie Hallon, Willie O’Donnell (1-1), Denis Dwyer (0-3), Mike Carmody (0-2), John Sexton (0-1), Mark Burke, Paddy Mulvihill (0-2), Gerry McElligott, Seamus Harkan (2-0). Sub: Ciaran Coll.
Offaly: Kieran Farrelly, Enda Condron, Colm Scanlon, John Hanafey, Sean Nolan, John Higgins, Pat Leavy, Conor Mooney, Trevor Willis, Barry Mooney, Danny Leavy, Dave Reynolds (0-12), Paul Glennon (0-1), Brendan Moran, Dan Sheehan. Sub: Francis Cox.