Wednesday 17 January 2018

An Offaly bad loss

Poor plan makes job impossible for Wexford Minors

Brendan Furlong

Wexford's Aaron Dobbs has a shot at goal during the Leinster Minor football championship
Wexford's Aaron Dobbs has a shot at goal during the Leinster Minor football championship
Wexford's John Dunne on the burst against Offaly
Wexford's Mark O'Neill clears the ball from his defence
Wexford's Mark Rossiter comes under some serious pressure
Wexford's Michael Molloy unleashes a beast of a shot

One would have to vent frustration at Wexford's style of possession football particularly when a more direct and effective Offaly handed them a five-point defeat, which was somewhat flattering to the Model county, in this Electric Ireland Leinster Minor football championship quarter-final at O'Connor Park, Tullamore, on Sunday afternoon last.

Offaly 0-19 Wexford 1-11

This was the 11th meeting between these two sides with their first meeting going way back to 1948. In all Offaly have now won eight of the 11 meetings to date, with Wexford recording just two victories while one semi-final finished level.

Given the history between these two counties, most of it wretched for Wexford, it was no surprise to see the Faithful county emerge with victory, but their dominance of this game must have been an eye-opener for the losing backroom set-up.

It's hard to understand Wexford's game system. Wexford seem a county possessed with possession football, playing so much of the game in the middle third of the pitch, solely concentrated on hand passing, moving backwards, which was so frustrating, particularly when the team possessed two lethal inside forwards in Mikie Dwyer and Jamie Myler.

Those are the two players Wexford should have been targeting with quick ball for both looked lethal whenever they got possession, but they were starved of the quality quick ball their game thrives on, except for just one brief instance.

On the resumption, Wexford, whatever was said in the dressing room, moved the attack forward at speed, with the ball reaching Mikie Dwyer who had a quick lay-off to Myler, leaving the corner-forward to drill home a superb shot to the roof of the net. All within 30 seconds of the restart, but within a short few minutes Wexford returned to their passing game, allowing Offaly to regain control and dominate proceedings, to such an extent their winning margin could have been far greater.

Wexford's style of football was in total contrast to that of their opponents. Offaly dominant in midfield where the high fielding Michael Mooney was outstanding along with partner Shane Molloy, had the most simplistic of games.

They only passed when caught in possession, but at every opportunity moved forward directly which was a hallmark of Mooney's display as he drove through the centre on three separate occasions in the opening half to kick three superb points.

They also had two lethal corner-forwards in Cian Johnson and Conor Lynam which they utilised superbly with quick long ball inside resulting in superb points, which was in stark contrast to the Wexford game plan of playing far too much football in the middle third of the pitch, which in itself was riddled with errors.

The one thing that Wexford should have learned from the opening quarter was that their slow moving game plan was never going to trouble Offaly for their opening two points in the first quarter, three and fourteen minutes came through Aaron Dobbs and Cathal Walsh frees, while Mikie Dwyer had an attempt for goal go just wide.

It was an error ridden opening quarter, but Offaly suddenly sprang to life as Mooney took a firm grip in midfield, going on to kick three superb points, and with both Johnson and Lynam also kicking some excellent points, they went on to lead 0-11 to 0-3 at the interval, Wexford's solitary point in the second quarter coming from a Walsh free.

Ironically, Wexford failed to register a single score from play through that opening 30 minutes which just about summed up their style of football through this period.

One had hoped that Wexford's game would build up more momentum on the resumption. Wexford needed to target an explosive start which they managed to achieve with Myler's goal inside 30 seconds of the restart.

While Conor Lynam helped to lift the early siege through a pointed free, Wexford responded with a fine run and point from Dwyer as he cut open the full-back line.

When Cathal Walsh followed with a 36th minute pointed free, suddenly just four points separated the sides, 0-12 to 1-5, but that was as good as it got for the Model county.

But it was Offaly who were playing with greater belief for into the breeze they responded with four unanswered points, through Dan Molloy, Michael Molloy a huge long range effort, along with efforts from Cian Johnson and Lynam free, to move into a 0-16 to 1-5 lead by the end of the third quarter.

Wexford struck back for points from a Dobbs free along with a fine effort from Myler to reduce the deficit to six points, 0-16 to 1-7.

The Offaly response was swift for it took a superb piece of defending from Tadgh Cody to keep out an Andrew Delaney shot that seemed destined for the net. Delaney followed almost immediately with a point, while at the opposite end two Dobbs points, one free, left five separating the sides, 0-17 to 1-9, but the Wexford options were limited in the closing minutes although it brought points from a Dobbs free and a Mark O'Neill effort in additional time, but it was the home side who remained in total control as they had for most of this game.

Wexford: Darragh O'Connor; Martin O'Connor, Ronan Devereux, Eoin Porter; Tagh Cody, Mark O'Neill (0-1), John Dunne; Darragh Lyons, Ben Moore; Cathal Walsh (0-3 frees), Mark Rossiter, Aaron Dobbs (0-5, 0-4 frees); Jamie Myler (1-1), Mikie Dwyer (0-1), Michael Molloy. Subs: Luke Sinnott for Lyons (inj. 31); Sam Wall for Molloy (40); Cathal Devereux for Walsh (40); Richie Waters for Myler (55); Sean Nolan for Moore (56); Seamus O'Donnell for Cody (60).

Offaly: Bary Rohan; Darragh Norris, Dylan Kavanagh, Stefan Geoghegan; Ronan Hynes, Jack Quinn, Dan Molloy (0-1); Michael Mooney (0-5), Shane Molloy (0-1); Eoin Farrell, Cian O'Neill, Andrew Delaney (0-2); Cian Johnson (0-3), Shane O'Brien, Conor Lynam (0-6, 0-4 frees). Subs: Luke Gavin Mangan for Geoghegan (24); Conor Dunne (0-1) for O'Neill (41); David Fleming for O'Brien (45); Robin Galbraith for Farrell (52); Aaron Leavy for Mooney (62).

Referee: Stephen Murphy (Louth).

Wexford People

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