Sunday 1st May 2022
Eoghan Cahill hit 0-16 as Offaly edged out Down 1-26 to 2-18 in the Joe McDonagh Cup game at Ballycran.
As Offaly made the better start, they led 0-10 to 0-5 after the first quarter and then moved nine up before Eoghan Sands netted for Down before half-time.
That cut the margin to five but despite a Conor Woods goal, Down never got closer than four in arrears thereafter.
Killian Sampson's goal then put Offaly seven ahead with Cahill's marksmanship keeping the Faithful County in control.
Cahill's remarkable scoring haul included four points from play - three of which came in the first half.
He opened the scoring in the first minute and while Woods levelled, points from Sampson and David Nally helped Offaly establish a three-point lead by the seventh minute.
After three Paul Sheehan frees had reduced Offaly's advantage to 0-7 to 0-5, another Sampson score and two Cahill placed balls - including an effort from 80 yards - put the visitors five up.
Four straight points between the 30th and 35th minute seemed to have Offaly almost out of sight at 0-17 to 0-8 ahead before Sands struck Down's first goal in injury-time, with a further Pearse Og McCrickard point reducing the margin to five at the break.
After Offaly hit three of the first four points following the restart, Woods' goal, as he blasted a 21-metre free to the net, cut the margin to four on 44 minutes but Down could not get any closer during the remainder of the game.
Sampson's goal put Offaly seven ahead on 50 minutes and while the Faithful County's keeper Stephen Corcoran made a brilliant double save in injury-time, the visitors were never really in danger of being caught.
Offaly's win keeps them very much in contention for a place in the final as they move level on four points with Kerry, with Antrim on a maximum six points by dint of their three opening victories.
After their encouraging opening win in Kerry, Down remain the bottom two relegation play-off positions but while it is now unlikely, mathematically they could still secure a final spot if they defeat Carlow and bottom-place Meath in their two remaining games and other results go in their favour.