Inter-County Senior Hurling Challenge
Tipperary 3-18 Offaly 1-10
The serious business begins in Nenagh next Sunday but for now, Tipperary senior hurling manager Eamon O’Shea can be pleased with his team’s early season efforts.
Following on from wins over Westmeath and Wexford before Christmas, Tipp put Offaly to the sword in blustery Moneygall last Sunday.
Early morning storms gave way to a quite pleasant, but windy, afternoon in the border village and Tipp warmed up for their Waterford Crystal cup opener against Limerick IT with a comprehensive 14-point victory over the Faithful County.
Playing with the breeze in the first half, Tipp had opened up a 2-9 to 0-6 lead and while Offaly rallied early in the second half, Tipp came on strong again to secure a big win.
Once again, Tipp fans were encouraged by the nature of the team’s display, with a heavy emphasis on intelligent use of possession, via short hand and stick passes.
The players also worked extremely hard and if Tipp can marry together all of these components, it could be a good year for the team.
Of course, it’s still very much a work in progress for O’Shea and the fact that Offaly were severely depleted must also be taken into account.
The Faithful County were without a host of key players, including leading forward Shane Dooley, and Tipp took advantage of a second string line-up.
Tipp’s starting team last Sunday was a nice blend of youth and experience but it was two young forwards who really caught the eye.
Killenaule’s John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer and Borrisoleigh’s Conor Kenny, an import from Kildare last year, both finished the afternoon with 1-5 to their names.
All of Kenny’s total was collected from play at full-forward and O’Dwyer finished with 1-3 from play, while also collecting two points from frees.
The sides were level three times during the early exchanges but Tipp never looked back after Kenny netted a 20th minute goal.
It was a wonderfully constructed move as Shane Bourke, most prominent in the first half, lined up with the excellent Noel McGrath to set up Kenny for a low finish.
The goal highlighted everything good about Tipperary when in full flow and in general, the link-up play was impressive from the team right through the game.
With Noel McGrath dictating matters from midfield, Tipp had the upper hand and a second goal arrived seven minutes before half-time, finished by David Collins and created by O’Dwyer.
At the break, Tipp held a nine-point lead and Offaly had failed to register a point from play, with all six of their scores coming from Joe Bergin frees.
Nine minutes after the interval, Offaly finally landed their first point from play, scored by Peter Geraghty, and a goal followed soon after, scored by twin brother Tomas.
Offaly trailed by six points at that stage – 1-7 to 2-10 – but Tipp’s response was impressive as they claimed the next seven points on offer.
Peter Geraghty responded with an Offaly point but substitute Conor O’Brien’s second point was followed by a third goal for Tipp, scored by O’Dwyer.
Brian Carroll and Sean Cleary tagged on late Offaly points but this was a solid afternoon’s work for Tipp, with last year’s captain Shane McGrath doing well at right-half-back.
Scorers for Tipperary: C Kenny & J O’Dwyer (0-2f), 1-5 each, D Collins 1-1, S Bourke & C O’Brien 0-2 each, N McGrath, S Kennedy & P Murphy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: J Bergin 0-6f, T Geraghty 1-0, P Geraghty 0-2, S Cleary & B Carroll 0-1 each.
Tipperary: James Logue (Ballingarry); Paddy Stapleton (Borrisoleigh), Conor O’Mahony (Newport), Jack Peters (Kilruane MacDonaghs); Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane), Tom Treacy (Cappawhite); Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Seamus Kennedy (St Mary’s, Clonmel); David Collins (Drom & Inch), John O’Dwyer (Killenaule), Steven O’Brien (Ballina); Liam McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Conor Kenny (Borrisoleigh), Shane Bourke (JK Brackens). Subs: Paddy Murphy (Nenagh Éire Óg) for L McGrath (30), Denis Maher (Thurles Sarsfields) for S O’Brien, Tossy Hamill (Killea) for O’Mahony, Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty) for Treacy (all h.t.).
Offaly: C Slevin; C McDonald, S Coughlan, J Rigney; D Egan, D Short, D Morkham; T Carroll, K Brady; S Cleary, J Bergin, P Geraghty; T Geraghty, C Parlon, M Egan. Subs: B Carroll for Bergin (h.t.), D Kilmartin for T Carroll (h.t.), N Wynne for Coughlan (43), S Gardiner for D Egan (57).
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).