Promotion and final place at stake for Offaly hurlers
Pictured above: Brian Duignan in action for Offaly alongside Derry's Conor Kelly during last weekend's Christy Ring Cup game. Photo: gaa.ie
Offaly hurlers will secure promotion to the Joe McDonagh Cup for next year if they win their Christy Ring Cup semi-final against Down tomorrow (Saturday).
With the McDonagh Cup set to contain six teams in 2021 - as opposed to the existing five - both Christy Ring Cup finalists will move up to the second tier for next year.
Offaly qualified for the Ring Cup semi-finals with an emphatic victory over Derry at Páirc Esler, Newry last Saturday on a scoreline of 0-32 to 1-12.
Eoghan Cahill contributed 0-17 (12 frees and one ‘65’) as Offaly ran up a big total in their win over the Oak Leaf men.
Liam Langton scored three points, with Oisin Kelly, Colm Gath and Peter Geraghty scoring 0-2 apiece, while Cillian Kiely excelled in the Offaly defence.
Derry’s hopes of pulling off a major upset were dealt a significant blow when John Mullan was sent off nine minutes into the second half. Offaly had led 0-16 to 0-6 at half-time, but a goal from Richie Mullan lifted Derry spirits shortly after the restart.
Offaly eventually emerged as comfortable winners and Michael Fennelly's men will return to Newry for the semi-final against Down (throw-in 1.30pm).
The other semi-final is between Kildare and Roscommon at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge (also on Saturday at 1.30).
It would be somewhat ironic if Offaly progress to a final meeting against Kildare - with the bookmakers rating both as hot favourites in their respective semi-finals - as the two counties were due to meet in the opening round until Covid-19 issues saw Offaly decide to give their opponents a walkover.
Meanwhile, the Offaly camogie team brought the curtain down on their Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship campaign with a 1-15 to 1-13 defeat to Wexford last Saturday.
Offaly travelled to Enniscorthy with their hopes of progression already over due to previous results and Wexford were in the same boat.
Wexford led by 0-7 to 0-4 at the first water break, but Offaly got the fillip they needed when Ann Marie Guinan set up Debbie Flynn for a goal. However, the concession of a soft goal enabled Wexford to build a six-point lead by half-time.
Under interim manager Susan Earner, Offaly battled to the end but Wexford emerged victors by two points.