Division Three round-up: Offaly ease relegation concerns as they beat Wicklow

Wicklow are now pointless from five games and look set for relegation

Offaly 5-15 Wicklow 0-10

Having displayed steady improvement throughout their Division 3 campaign, Offaly got the win they deserved when they ran riot against Wicklow in Tullamore on Sunday afternoon.

That improvement hadn’t resulted in a win before now as they lost their first four games, but they got the result they needed and it gives them a fighting chance of staying up – they have games to come against Sligo and Limerick and a win over Limerick will almost certainly be sufficient to survive.

Wicklow are now pointless from five games and look set for relegation. On the basis of this display, they are a Division Four side as they were blown out of the water by Offaly who played some fine attacking football.

An excellent individual goal from Cormac Egan in the 17th minute, followed by one from Eoin Carroll two minutes later, gave Offaly a 2-4 to 0-3 lead and they were never in danger of losing after that. Wicklow had been level at 0-3 each after 15 minutes but could only manage one point in the second quarter, a Kevin Quinn free, as Offaly led by 2-8 to 0-4 at half-time.


Offaly quickly ended the game as a contest in the second half with Anton Sullivan netting a penalty after the outstanding Cormac Egan was fouled in the 41st minute. Jack Bryant added a fourth goal minutes later and a 4-10 to 0-4 lead meant that Offaly were untroubled when Dylan Hyland got sent off for a black and yellow card a minute later.

A Jordan Hayes goal made it 5-10 to 0-6 in the 51st minute although Wicklow kicked four points in a row they also finished the game with 14 players when wing back Cillian McDonald picked up a 64th-minute black card. Offaly finished the game with all guns blazing, kicking the last four points for an impressive and convincing win.

Offaly: M Cunningham; A Bracken, J Furlong, D Hogan; C Egan (1-0), D Dempsey (0-1), L Pearson (0-1); E Carroll (1-0), P Cunningham; D Hyland (0-6, 1f), R McNamee, J Hayes (1-0); A Sullivan (1-1, goal penalty), K O’Neill (0-1), J Bryant (1-3). Subs: R Egan for Cormac Egan (52m), J McEvoy for Carroll (55m), N Dunne (0-2) for Bryant (62m), C Flynn for O’Neill (64m), D McDaid for Pearson (68m).

Wicklow: C Fitzgerald; T Moran (0-1), M Stone, J McCall; E Murtagh, P O’Keane, C McDonald (0-1); C Maguire, J Kirwan; JP Nolan, D Healy (0-1), C Baker; E Darcy, K Quinn (0-5, 3f), C O’Brien. Subs: M Nolan for Murtagh (HT), D Fee for McCall (HT), B Nesbitt (0-1) for Darcy (HT), O McGraynor (0-1) for Stone (53m), J Carlin for Kirwan (53m),

Referee: David Murnane (Cork).

Down 2-17 Sligo 1-8

Down supporters left Páirc Esler on Sunday happy with a fifth win under their belt, with Sligo the victims on the wrong end of a 2-17 to 0-8 result.

Sligo opened the scoring with a well-taken point in the first minute from Alan McLaughlin, but Tony McEntee’s side would not get their next score for 20 minutes, while the Mourne men hit 1-6 during that spell.

That first goal arrived on 17 minutes following points from James and Daniel Guinness and a brace of frees from Saval man Pat Havern. Daniel Guinness picked up the ball from a Sligo kickout and went on the run, passing to corner-back Ceilum Doherty who fired into the net.

But goals have been a staple for Sligo in this competition and Down have shipped quite a few and that was almost the case again on Sunday.

Sligo came achingly close when Sean Carrabine’s low hard goalbound shot pounded back into play off the post. Down picked up the rebound and Daniel Guinness kicked over the bar to make it 1-6 to 0-1.

Sligo were not ready to lie down yet however, hitting the next four points from Patrick O’Connor, Cian Lally and two from Carrabine, but Conor Laverty’s men could have been out of sight just after the half-hour mark had Daniel Guinness’s shot not ricochetted off the underside of the crossbar denying him a goal.

Sligo were unlucky yet again with another goal effort from Niall Murphy blocked by Peter Fegan, who had a penalty let off for what looked like a pick up off the ground that the referee didn’t call.

Down led by six at the break 1-8 to 0-5 but that lead increased to 10 after the restart with a point from Havern and a lovely one-two between James Guinness and Conor Francis that ended with Guinness finishing to the net.

Seven minutes later Nathan Mullen easily ran around the back, cut in from the left and stroked home pulling a three-pointer back for Sligo but it wasn’t enough as Down kept the scoreboard ticking over and finished with a 2-17 to 1-8 victory.

Down: John O’Hare (0-1,f); Peter Fegan, Ryan McEvoy (0-1), Ceilum Doherty (1-2, m); Miceal Rooney, Pierce Laverty, Ryan Magill; Jonny Flynn, Ryan Johnston; Caolan Mooney, Liam Kerr (0-1), Daniel Guinness (0-2); Danny Magill (0-1), Pat Havern (0-7, 6f), James Guinness (1-1)

Subs: Conor Francis for Mooney (29mins), Oisin Savage (0-1) for J Guinness (47mins), Gareth McKibben for Johnston (60mins), Finn McElroy for R Magill 64mins), Gerard Collins for Kerr (66mins)

Sligo: Aidan Devaney; Paul McNamara, Eddie McGuinness, Evan Lyons; Brian Cox, Darragh Cummins, Nathan Mullen (1-0); Patrick O’Connor (0-1), Paul Kilcoyne; Alan McLaughlin (0-1), Donal Conlan, Cian Lally (0-1); Luke Towey, Sean Carrabine (0-4, 2 f), Niall Murphy (0-1,f)

Subs: Lee Deignan for Conlon (H-T), Canice Mulligan for Towey (47mins), Daire O’Boyle for Murphy (58mins), Mickey Gordan for Mullen (58mins), Kielan Cawley for O’Connor (68mins)

Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)

Antrim 0-9 Westmeath 0-13

Westmeath held their nerve at Corrigan Park on Sunday to keep their promotion hopes on track as victory over Antrim ensured they maintained their 100 per cent record.

Dessie Dolan’s side made the most of their chances, with Antrim left to rue three goal chances that came and went, while they were also guilty of some poor misses that saw them slip to a third-straight defeat to end their own hopes of climbing the ladder.

It was a cagey opening five minutes before Eunan Walsh started a superb Antrim move out from the back and continued his run, only to be denied by Westmeath goalkeeper Jason Daly who saved for a 45.

Michael Byrne missed the kick but redeemed himself with a great save from Jonathan Lynam at the other end. Ronan Boyle finally broke the deadlock with a point for the hosts after eight minutes but Senan Baker tied it up from a free.

The visitors then seemed to take a bit of a grip on the match with two quick scores, but a Dominic McEnhill brace including a beauty from play tied it up once again.

Kavan Keenan then edged the hosts ahead from a tight angle but Westmeath got back on terms almost immediately and they would take a 0-5 to 0-4 lead into the break after Danny McCartan weaved his way into space to score as Antrim were left to rue half a dozen first-half wides.

Westmeath enjoyed plenty of the ball straight after the break, with an extended move finished by Conor Dillon and Ryan O’Toole then added another. But Antrim remained in the hunt with Michael Byrne and Dermott McAleese kicking scores before Danny and Sam McCartan popped up at the other end.

The margin was four on 58 minutes, when Antrim were again denied as a quick free released Marc Jordan who played in McEnhill and the corner-forward seemed to do everything right as he steadied but saw his shot crash off the bar.

McEnhill and Declan Lynch kicked further points, but Westmeath found a response through Andy McCormack and Kieran Martin with the insurance score coming from Lynam.

Antrim: M Byrne (0-1f); J Morgan, E Walsh, K Keenan (0-1); D Lynch (0-1), J Finnegan, D McAleese (0-1); C McLarnon, C Hand (0-1f); R Boyle (0-1), P McBride, R McCann; M Jordan, P Shivers, D McEnhill (0-3, 2f). Subs: N Burns for P Shivers (52), L McLarnon for D McEnhill (70+1).

Westmeath: J Daly; K Maguire, C Drumm, J Lynam (0-2); D Scahilll, R Wallace (0-1), N Harte; R Connellan, A McCormack (0-1); D Lynch (0-1), R O’Toole (0-1), S McCartan (0-1); S Baker (0-2f), C Dillon (0-1), D McCartan (0-2, 1f). Subs: K Martin (0-1) for S Baker (49), M Whittaker for R Wallace (55), J Dolan for N Harte (55), E Mulvihill for C Drumm (58), S Smith for D McCartan (68)

Referee: Fintan Pierce (Offaly)

Limerick 0-14 Clare 1-16

Clare confirmed their promotion credentials with a richly deserved win over neighbours Limerick in Rathkeale on Saturday. It is a fourth win from five outings from a new-look Banner side, who finished strongly after the hosts thundered back into the contest.

Mark Fitzgerald will be thrilled with the result, especially after the Kerry native was overlooked for the Limerick post in the offseason. His opposite number Jimmy Lee has yet to taste victory since his appointment for the 2024 season. Wins over Antrim and Down will seal promotion for a Clare side who are short 12 of their 2023 panel.

Clare dominated the opening exchanges and would open up a cushion that they would need to fall on after Limerick eventually got to within a score during a chaotic second half.

Points from Emmet McMahon, Dermot Coughlan and Aaron Griffin helped them build their first-half lead, while their goal on 21 minutes arrived from the boot of Brian McNamara. Limerick eventually replaced Aaron O’Sullivan, their goalkeeper, after a tortuous 33 minutes between the posts.

It was 1-11 to 0-5 at half-time, with Barry Coleman and Jamie Baynham the only Limerick men who regularly threatened the posts.

However, the home side did find a new lease of life from the second-half throw in. James Naughton and Baynham both kicked scores inside 30 seconds. Tommie Childs was powerful at midfield, although Clare created their own problems. Stephen Ryan, their goalkeeper had little to no options on many kickouts, allowing Limerick to push forward.

It was 1-12 to 0-13 entering the final 10 minutes but four unanswered points secured the win, Coleman again crucial with another score.

Cormac Murray steadied the ship but further points from Aaron Griffin (two) and Manus Doherty eased any concerns. Antrim are next for Clare, who are looking for an immediate return to the second tier. Limerick need to defeat both Wicklow and Offaly to avoid consecutive relegations and end up in Division Four.

Limerick: A O’Sullivan; J Liston, S O’Dea, C McSweeney; B Coleman (0-3), I Corbett (Capt), C Fahy (0-1); T Childs, E Rigter; R Childs (0-1), C Downes (0-1), P Maher; J Baynham (0-3), J Naughton (0-4, 0-2 f), P Nash. Subs: J English for O’Sullivan (33); E Hurley for Nash (59); T Griffin for Rigter (60); J Sweeney for R Childs (69); D Daly (0-1) for Baynham (69) S Costelloe for Maher (70).

Clare: S Ryan; M Doherty (0-2), R Lanigan, M Garry; I Ugweru, A Sweeney, D Walsh (0-2); G Murray, B McNamara (1-0); D Coughlan (0-1), C Murray (0-2), C Downes (0-1); E McMahon (0-4, 0-1f), A Griffin (0-4), J McGann. Subs: D Nagle for Ugweru (half-time); J Stack for McGann (54); C Murray for McDonald (69); M McInerney for Coughlan (70).

Referee: Margaret Farrelly (Cavan)