By Mark Jones
DUBLIN – It may not be a crisis, but a second successive National Football League defeat of the new campaign for Dublin is cause for concern. This time it was Offaly who did the damage, running out deserved 1-10 to 0-9 winners at Tullamore last Sunday. While Dublin will no doubt remind everyone that the league is a breeding ground for new talent, losing can easily become a habit.
As for Offaly, their Div. 1A victory was all the more impressive for the fact that both midfielders, James Grennan and Ciaran McManus, were taken to the hospital during the game with shoulder and elbow injuries, respectively. But manager Padraig Nolan’s side compensated superbly and backed by a strong breeze they went in at halftime leading by 1-8 to 0-1.
With Cathal Daly and Karl Slattery outstanding in the winners’ defense, Basil Malone pounced for a goal after 10 minutes, and then coming up to the break, Offaly rattled off five points in a row through McManus, Darren Quinn, Malone, Cillian Farrell and Donie Ryan.
Dublin never looked like making up that 10-point deficit during the second half despite the introduction of Paul Curran, and while Niall O’Donoghue kicked three scores from play and Wayne McCarthy was on the mark with four frees, Offaly were able to register a first victory of the season.
Tyrone 4-8, Kerry 0-6
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
Victory was well beyond the reach Kerry, who fielded only four of their All-Ireland-winning side in Dungannon, where Tyrone triumphed in convincing fashion.
Inspired by substitute Peter Canavan, Tyrone struck for their first goal just before the break through Eoin Mulligan, and then added three more in the second half through Mulligan again, Peter Campbell and Stephen O’Neill.
Kerry defender Eamonn Breen and Tyrone’s Cormac McAnallen had been sent off earlier following a clash.
Galway 0-12, Donegal 0-12
Galway and Donegal managed to retain their unbeaten records at this early stage of the competition when they played out a draw at Tuam.
With John McCafferty in excellent form, finishing with 0-9 of Donegal’s total, the visitors looked to be on their way to victory when Galway staged a late revival. Two points down going into injury time, Padraic Joyce and Kenneth Naughton both kicked scores to salvage the draw.
Roscommon 2-11, Louth 1-11
Two goals in the space of a minute by Frankie Dolan and Stephen Lohan earned Roscommon a victory over Louth in Drogheda.
Dolan found the net with a penalty early in the second half when Lohan was fouled, and then Lohan himself hit the target after Dolan’s shot had been parried by goalkeeper John Nally. Louth substitute Aidan O’Neill had an opportunity to level matters in the closing seconds, but his shot hit the side netting.
Sligo 1-12, Meath 2-7
Placekickers win matches and that point was proved in the main Div. 1B game in Navan, where Sligo carved out a valuable victory over Meath. Paul Taylor and Dessie Sloyane were accurate for Sligo, while Meath’s stand-in kicker, Ollie Murphy, had a miserable afternoon.
Admittedly, Meath were missing Trevor Giles, Graham Geraghty, Darren Fay and John McDermott, but Sligo still produced some excellent football with Eamonn O’Hara in midfield the outstanding figure.
Charles McCarthy and Sloyane exchanged first-half goals, and even though Ronan Fitzsimons hit a second for Meath early in the second half, the home side failed to score for the next 20 minutes as Sligo forged ahead.
Mayo 0-12, Fermanagh 2-2
Mayo didn’t have to be on their best form to get the better of Fermanagh at Brewster Park. In fact, Mayo could afford to shoot 15 wides to Fermanagh’s three and still they were comfortable winners.
Rory Gallagher and sub Martin McGrath picked off goals for an unimpressive Fermanagh, but the Connacht county had little trouble in securing the result.
Derry 2-7, Laois 1-9
Derry were almost caught in the dying minutes at Celtic Park, where Laois staged a revival only to finish on the wrong end of the scoreline. Six points clear with a quarter of an hour remaining, Derry appeared to be cruising to victory. However, a Chris Conway goal gave Laois hope and then Conway leveled matters close to the final whistle. But Kieran McKeever struck with a fine point from the right in injury time to settle the result.
Cavan moved to the top of the division following their 2-7 to 1-8 triumph over Clare at Breffni Park. Jason Reilly turned out to be the key figure with a goal in each half against a Clare side that was short 10 regular first teamers.
Cork’s 100 per cent record in Div. 2A is intact following the Rebel County’s comfortable 0-13 to 0-4 victory over Antrim at Casement Park, where the home team ran up 13 wides. Antrim goalkeeper Sean McGreevy had to make three brilliant saves, so Cork’s margin could have been far greater.
Armagh recovered from getting a player sent off early in the second half, but they were still able to beat Wicklow by 1-10 to 0-11 at Crossmaglen. Ronan Skelton’s dismissal for a rash challenge failed to halt Armagh’s impetus and Barry Duffy’s goal proved to be the difference.
Meanwhile, Limerick shocked Leitrim with a 1-11 to 0-10 victory at Kilmallock and Westmeath predictably eased past London by 3-17 to 1-4.
In Div. 2B, Kildare slumped to a surprise home loss to Monaghan. It finished 1-13 to 2-7 at Newbridge, where Declan Smyth kicked four points and James McIlroy scored a vital goal.
Also, Longford hammered Wexford by 2-16 to 0-10 at New Ross and Carlow registered an important 1-17 to 1-12 triumph over Tipperary at Dr. Cullen Park. And Down were too strong for Waterford at Newry, where it finished 1-16 to 0-7.