Hurlers hammer weak Offaly side

Offaly 0-14;
Waterford 1-35.
The above scoreline and 24-point winning margin accurately reflected the complete miss-match between these two sides in Round One of the Senior Hurling Qualifiers.
The trip to O’Connor Park in Tullamore offered Derek McGrath and his Waterford side the ideal
opportunity to put their disappointing showing against Cork in the Munster Championship behind them and build confidence for next Saturday’s derby clash with Kilkenny.
Waterford grabbed this opportunity with both hands and mercilessly demolished the home side managed by Déise native Kevin Ryan.
Bainisteoir McGrath continued with a familiar looking starting line-up with Darragh Fives coming in from the start in place of the
suspended Stephen Bennett.
This adjustment allowed Waterford with Tadhg de Búrca
operate as the seventh defender in a sweeping role with Darragh Fives completing the half-back line with Conor Gleeson and Philip Mahony.
Offaly, facing into a stiff breeze in the opening 35 minutes, went one better operating with ostensibly two sweepers with both Paddy Murphy and Emmett Nolan lined up across their own 45 to augment their defence.
The opening 20 minutes or so was evenly divided on six points apiece as Waterford struggled to work through the Offaly defence.
Long balls were delivered in the general direction of Maurice Shanahan who struggled with the weight of Offaly numbers around him to impact the game.
Waterford eventually broke the code to unlock Offaly’s massed defence. Accurate and shorter passing allowed the likes of Austin Gleeson and Pauric Mahony score unopposed from distance. Waterford struck eight points in succession before Shane Kinsella broke this sequence after 32 minutes to leave Waterford leading by double scores (0-14 to 0-7).
Straight from the resulting puck-out Shane Bennett caught Stephen O’Keeffe’s booming delivery on the 21-metre line before swivelling and shooting low to the net past a helpless James Dempsey, (1-14 to 0-7).
By half-time the margin had swelled to 13 points and the game as a contest was over, with Waterford leading by 1-18 to 0-8.
Offaly lost talisman Shane Dooley to injury as the Tullamore player failed to resume after the interval as manager Kevin Ryan made two half-time changes in all. It mattered little, though.
Waterford picked up where they left off, scoring at will with the scoreboard operator struggling to keep pace with the Déise scoring bursts.
Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson, playing in a more orthodox centre-forward position, looked far more comfortable, contributing six points in all in a welcome return to form.
Jamie Barron was again excellent at centre-field weaving his way through a crowded middle third. Defenders Tadhg de Búrca and Darragh Fives both also got on the score sheet while a sortie into the opposition half from corner-back Noel Connors almost saw the Passage man and former All-Star register a maiden Championship score.
Waterford management with qualification to the next round
secured availed of the opportunity to get Jake Dillon, Colin Dunford, Tommy Ryan, Stephen Daniels and Patrick Curran all onto the field
before game’s end.
Dunford and Curran in particular looked sharp in a scoring performance offered a timely reminder of their abilities to the Waterford
management.
Waterford posted a record
number of scores with a record
winning margin and but for some excellent goalkeeping from James Dempsey, the margin could have been even more handsome.
Dempsey pulled off outstanding saves from Shane Bennett and Austin Gleeson in the 55th and 70th minutes to keep enhance his reputation on an otherwise miserable day for the Kinnity clubman, intact.
Offaly who also shipped 33 points in the previous round to Galway were relieved when referee Alan Kelly finally blew for full-time.
For Waterford, Kilkenny will represent a considerably tougher challenge next Saturday but this was an ideal opener as they attempt to
negotiate a tricky route back to Croke Park this season.
Waterford Scorers: Pauric Mahony (0-11; 0-7f, 0-1’65), Austin Gleeson
(0-6), Patrick Curran (0-4; 0-2f, 0-1 65), Kevin Moran, Darragh Fives, Jamie Barron, Maurice Shanahan and Colin Dunford (0-2 each), Jake Dillon, Tadhg de Búrca, Tommy Ryan and Michael Walsh (0-1 each).
Offaly Scorers: Shane Dooley
(0-5f), Joe Bergin (0-3; 0-2f), Shane Kinsella, Ben Connelly, Emmett Nolan, Oisin Kelly, James Mulrooney and Padraic Guinan (0-1 each).
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors; Darragh Fives, Tadhg de Búrca, Philip Mahony; Conor Gleeson, Jamie Barron; Kevin Moran, Michael Walsh, Austin Gleeson; Pauric Mahony, Shane Bennett, Maurice Shanahan. Substitutes: Jake Dillon for Maurice Shanahan and Colin Dunford for Michael Walsh (both 48 mins), Stephen Daniels for Kevin Moran (51), Tommy Ryan for Shane Bennett (55) and Patrick Curran for Pauric Mahony (59).
Offaly: James Dempsey; Ben Connelly, Dermot Shortt, Pat Camon; Sean Gardiner, Aiden Treacy, David King; Sean Ryan, Joe Bergin; Paddy Murphy, Shane Kinsella, Emmet Nolan; James Mulrooney, Shane Dooley, Oisin Kelly. Substitutes: Enda Grogan for Aiden Treacy and Sean Cleary for Shane Dooley (both HT), Peter Geraghty for Shane Kinsella and Michael Cleary for Emmet Nolan (both 53mins) and Padraic Guinan for Paddy Murphy (57).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)

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