Tipp demolish Offaly challenge

Tipperary 2-19, Offaly 1-09

Tipperary showed they had the appetite back as they demolished the Offaly challenge with a devestating second half display in this All-Ireland senior hurling championship qualifier at Portlaoise.

Nickey English’s charges were determined to leave the provincial final defeat behind them as they took the initiative from an early stage only allowing Offaly a glimmer of hope for brief spells during the opening half.

But it was through the second half that the All-Ireland champions demonstrated that they will once again be a force to be reckoned with and will now go into the quarter-final draw.

Tipperary had the tonic start they just needed to get their championship back on course. It was a sparkling opening 10 minutes which saw them storm into a six-point lead as Offaly struggled to stay with the pace of the game.

It was Mark O’Leary who proved the early inspiration. After forcing keeper Stephen Byrne into a great save inside 60 seconds, O’Leary was on target one minute later with a neatly struck point.

The Offaly response may have been what one would have expected as they bounced back within a minute for Barry Whelahan to bring the sides level. But was Tipperary who had lost their provincial title to Waterford who proceded to stamp their authority on the game.

Corner-forward Eoin Kelly pointed them back in front after just six minute, before they had the games opening goal, when Brian O’Meara having been picked out by John Carroll cooly flashed the ball past Stephen Byrnes from close range.

Points followed from O’Meara and a huge Paul Kelly effort out of midfield to leave the Premier County leading 1-4 to 0-1 after just 10 minutes.

Offaly gradually clawed their way back into the game. After points from Rory Hanniffy and Stephen Brown, it was Brown who crashed home a great goal following a Simon Whelehan flick inside the defence, leaving the minimum separating the sides 1-4 to 1-3 after 19 minutes.

During this opening 20-minute spell Tipperary struck six wides to Offaly’s one but still added further points through Benny Dunne and Mark O’Leary. A Kevin Martin point left just two separating the sides before burly John Carroll took advantage of fine forward play from Eoin Kelly to score his side's second goal.

As the sides went on to exchanges points it was Tipperary who led 2-8 to 1-6 at the break, despite striking 10 first half wides to their opponent's five.

Once an Eoin Kelly pointed free stretched Tipperary’s lead within three minutes of the restart it was Tipperary who went on to control the second 35 minutes.

Building up a commanding 2-16 to 1-9 lead after 55 minutes the Tipperary dominance was never to be questioned as even the introduction of Johnny Dooley could not salvage anything for an Offaly side who despite a spirited effort were totally outclassed through a second period in which they could only manage three second half points

Tipperary: B Cummins, T Costello, P Maher, P Ormonde, E Corcoran, D Kennedy, P Kelly (0-3, 0-2 frees), E Enright (0-1), N Morris, M O’Leary (0-4), T Dunne (0-2), B Dunne (0-2), E Kelly (0-3 frees), J Carroll (1-1), B O’Meara (1-2).

Subs: E O’Neill (0-1) for E. Kelly; P Curran for Maher; B Horgan for Morris; J Devane for Kennedy.

Offaly: S Byrne, M O’Hara, J Errity, JP O’Meara, B Whelahan, J Brady, N Claffey, R Hanniffy (0-1), B Whelahan (0-1), G Hanniffy, K Martin (0-1), B Murphy, B Carroll (0-1), S Brown (1-1), S Whelahan (0-4 frees).

Subs: G Oakley for R Hanniffy; D Murray for Murphy; Joe Dooley for Brown; M Cordial for Carroll; H Rigney for O’Hara.

Referee: M. Wadding (Waterford).

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