Offaly 2-13 Tipperary 0-12

Updated: Sunday, 27 Apr 2008 18:40

Ciaran McManus scored Offaly's first goal in Portlaoise today
Ciaran McManus scored Offaly's first goal in Portlaoise today

Offaly captured their first NFL Division 4 title since 1997 thanks to a deserved win over Tipperary at O'Moore Park this afternoon.

It was a game that the midlanders always looked like winning and they held a 1-08 to 0-05 interval lead thanks to a Ciaran McManus goal.

Tipperary kept in touch – with Brian Coen leading their scoring with 0-10 – and they cut the deficit to four points, with two minutes remaining. But Niall Smith was on hand to seal Offaly's victory with an injury-time goal.

This game was all about hard graft and with some good passages of play, Offaly's footballers gave a glimmer of what their manager Pat Roe will expect come Championship time.

Despite the loss of centre-forward Niall Fitzgerald prior to the game, following an injury in a Limerick club championship tie on Friday night, Tipperary started the game brightly and dominated possession in the opening stages.

Corner-forward Brian Coen, who scored ten points last Sunday in his side's win over Wicklow, matched this tally in the final and he got Tipp off the mark after two minutes.

However, once Ciaran McManus struck home a well-taken goal in the ninth-minute, Offaly began to settle.

McManus crashed home after good work from Niall McNamee who sent the ball over a crowded Tipp defence to Thomas Deehan who provided the final assist.

The goal gave Offaly a lead they were not to relinquish and although Coen kept John Evans' side in touch and full-forward Seamus Grogan notched the final point of the half, the Faithful County held a comfortable six-point interval lead.

Coen kept up his good work in the second half, but the Fethard forward was pretty much a one-man Tipperary scoring machine, and perhaps did not get the support from his attacking colleagues that he would have likes.

Coen's efforts and a fisted point from Paul Johnson gave Tipp a late chance to overhaul the men from Leinster.

Tipperary were dominating possession at this stage but Offaly claimed a fortuitous goal in injury-time.

Niall Smith's effort bounded off the crossbar but just managed to sneak over the line to hand Offaly a winning margin of seven points.

After the game Offaly captain Ger Rafferty accepted the cup from GAA President elect Christy Cooney.

Scorers -

Offaly: N McNamee 0-07 (0-01f), C McManus 1-01 (0-01f), N Smith 1-00, T Deehan 0-03, D Egan, J Coughlan 0-01 each

Tipperary: B Coen 0-10 (0-08f), S Grogan, P Johnson 0-01 each

OFFALY: P Kelly; G Rafferty, S Sullivan, S Brady; B Darby, P McConway, N Grennan; C McManus, A McNamee; D Egan, N Smith, P Kellaghan; T Deehan, J Reynolds, N McNamee.

Subs used: J Coughlan for Reynolds (55 mins), S Stapleton for Kellaghan (61), G Comerford for Egan (65).

TIPPERARY: P Fitzgerald; A Foley, M Peters, C McDonald; P Codd, R Costigan, C Maher; K Mulryan, G Hannigan; P Austin, E Kearney, L Coskeran; D O'Brien, S Grogan, B Coen.

Subs used: P Johnson for Maher (25 mins), B Jones for Kearney, E Hanrahan for Hannigan (both half-time), S Stapleton for Austin (52), H Coghlan for Codd (62).

Referee: Con Reynolds (Down)