Offaly turned in an excellent second half display to collect two crucial points in Dr Cullen Park this afternoon.

An opportunistic Eoghan Cahill goal early in the second half put Offaly on the road to victory and they never looked back as Carlow suffered a devastating defeat.

Ahead by just a point at half time, Offaly outscored their opponents by 1-14 to 0-07 in the second half and are now in pole position for promotion.

Carlow were marginally the better side for some of the first half but short puckouts from goalkeeper Brian Tracey often put them under pressure and directly led to 1-02 for Offaly.

It was very tight on the scoreboard throughout. Offaly led by 0-05 to 0-04 13 minutes before a 19th minute John Michael goal gave Carlow the lead.

The sides were level, 1-06 to 0-09 when Oisin Kelly put Offaly ahead with a superb goal after a misplaced Tracey puckout.

Carlow responded well to get back on level terms with their best forward Martin Kavanagh getting two points. A fine Brian Duignan point gave Offaly that tender half time lead.

Offaly led by 1-11 to 1-10 at half time but it wouldn't have been an injustice if the home side was in front.

With games against Down and Wicklow to come, Michael Fennelly's charges are in the process of turning a corner and are playing much better than last year.

Cahill's goal gave the winners a 2-11 to 1-10 lead and while Carlow had the gap back to three points in the 42nd minute, they couldn't live with Offaly's sudden increase in intensity.

They led by 2-15 to 1-13 after 52 minutes, 2-19 to 1-13 and then after Carlow got two points, they got six on the trot in a great spell of pressure to pull out of sight.

Offaly have now had three big wins over Meath, Kerry and Carlow and their confidence is flying. Oisin Kelly was magnificent here, scoring 1-04 in a man of the match display while Eoghan Cahill got 1-12, three from play. Martin Kavanagh kept Carlow alive with 13 points but they were very much second best in the second half.

The first half provided a very entertaining affair. Both sides made far more mistakes than they would have liked but they also had plenty of good hurling and there was no shortage of scores.

Offaly: Conor Clancy; Jordan Quinn, Ciarán Burke , David King; Damien Egan, Ben Conneely, Killian Sampson; Leon Fox (0-1), Ross Ravenhill; Shane Kinsella (0-1) , Oisin Kelly (1-4), Brian Duignan (0-1); Liam Langton (0-4), Jason Sampson, Eoghan Cahill (1-12, 9F).

Subs: Paddy Delaney for Quinn (34), Aidan Treacy (0-1) for Egan (HT), John Murphy (0-1) for Jason Sampson (52), Colm Gath for Kinsella (63), David Nally for Cahill (63), Shane Dooley for Duignan (67), Luke O'Connor for Kelly (67),

Carlow: Brian Tracey; Eoin Hosey, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Ger Coady, Tony Lawlor, Gary Lawlor; Jack Kavanagh, Kevin McDonald (0-1); John Michael Nolan (1-0), Craig Wall (0-1), Richard Coady; Martin Kavanagh (0-13, 8f, 3 '65s), Jon Nolan, Chris Nolan (0-1).

Subs: Jack McCullagh for Gary Lawlor (41), Aaron Amond for Coady (54), Ciaran Kavanagh for Chris Nolan (58), Paul Coady for Wall (58), Dion Wall for Kavanagh (60),

Referee: Thomas Gleeson (Carlow).

Elsewhere in 2A, Down thumped Offaly and Kerry beat Meath by 1-24 to 0-24 in Tralee to move back into promotion contention.

Shane Conway (0-11, 8fs) and Shane Nolan (1-02) starred for the Kingdom, who led by 1-10 to 0-02 at one stage in the first half before Meath rallied and scored seven in a row, including three from Jack Regan (0-12, 9f) to trail by just a goal, 1-11 to 0-11 at the interval.

The Kingdom managed to maintain their advantage throughout the second half and could even afford to miss a penalty, which Conway drove wide.