Deaghlan Foley in action against Aidan Treacy and David King. (Pic: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile)
Derry's wait for an elusive first Christy Ring Cup title continues after they fell to a rampant Offaly on Sunday in Croke Park.
CHRISTY RING CUP FINAL
It is the second successive year the Oakleafers fell to the Faithful County after their 0-32 to 1-12 Quarter-Final defeat in Newry last season. The win seals a league and championship double for Offaly.
Derry started without vice-captain Conor Kelly from their listed starting team. Deaglan Foley came into the team at wing-forward, with John Mullan moving to wing-back and his brother Richie moving to the centre.
Offaly dominated from start to finish, were sharp with their touch and flawless in front of the posts to shoot a staggering tally of 41 points over the game.
While Derry played second fiddle in all sectors of the field, they did had to work a lot harder for their frees over the course of the game and referee Thomas Gleeson brandished a series of yellow cards in a game that lacked any real bite.
Man of the match Oisin Kelly had the ball over the bar after two minutes and seconds later played the pass for John Murphy to land the first of his four first-half points.
During the opening half, Derry 'keeper Oisin O'Doherty mixed his puck-outs between short and long, but his side struggled to make the ball stick in attack, leaving their defence overworked against an Offaly wave.
Brian Cassidy opened Derry's account in the fourth minute with a nice score and the Slaughtneil man played the ball centrally for a Deaglan Foley point and the sides were level after five minutes, 0-2 each.
Offaly were successful on their own puck-outs and hit a purple patch where they couldn't miss. Leon Fox, John Murphy, Eoghan Cahill were among the scorers in a 10-point return that opened a 0-12 to 0-2 lead before a Cormac O'Doherty got Derry's first score in 13 minutes before the water break.
Derry worked the only goal of the half in the 22nd minute. O'Doherty's long puck-out was won by Brian Cassidy who found Gerald Bradley was a brilliant pass across the goal and he finished to the net, making the score 0-13 to 1-4. Bradley tagged on a point, but Offaly finished the half with the flourish.
Derry needed a save from O'Doherty to deny John Murphy, but play was called back and Cahill tapped over as Offaly went on their way to a 0-19 to 1-7 interval lead, with Brian Cassidy and O'Doherty the Derry scorers.
Eoghan Cahill, who finished with 0-13, added two quick points at the start of the second half. Odhran McKeever had a sniff of goal when a free from goalkeeper Conor Clancy's free went to the Kevin Lynch's man who whizzed his shot over the bar.
A rare moment of brilliance for Derry in the third quarter came when Eoghan Cassidy's low diagonal pass found Brian Cassidy who launched over the bar from close to the sideline, making the score 0-22 to 1-9 after 41 minutes. Offaly hit five more scores before the second water break to lead 0-27 to 1-10.
In the closing stages, Offaly substitutes Shane Dooley, Shane Kinsella and Luke O'Connor scored two points each as they increased their lead.
Shea Cassidy notched two points on his first outing at Croke Park when brought in from the bench. Odhran McKeever did manage a second Derry goal. After picking up a Darragh McCloskey pass, he powered goalwards before lashing to the back of the net, but it was too little too late.
It is Offaly's first win in the competition after losing to Down in last year's Semi-Final and under former Kilkenny great Michael Fennelly, they will play their hurling in Division 1B next season after their promotion.
OFFALY: Conor Clancy; Paddy Delaney, Ciarán Burke, David King; Aidan Treacy (0-3), Ben Conneely (0-1), Killian Sampson (0-1); Leon Fox (0-2), Ross Ravenhill; Brian Duignan, Liam Langton (0-1), Jason Sampson (0-1); Oisin Kelly (0-7), John Murphy (0-5), Eoghan Cahill (0-13, 9f)
SUBS: Luke O'Connor (0-2) for L Langton (45), Eimhín Kelly for L Fox (50), Shane Kinsella (0-2) for J Sampson (55), Shane Dooley (0-2f) for B Duignan (59), Damien Egan (0-1) for E Cahill (62)
YELLOW CARD: J Sampson (47)
DERRY: Oisin O'Doherty; Meehaul McGrath, Sean Cassidy, Darragh McCloskey; Brian Óg McGilligan, Richie Mullan (0-1), John Mullan; Eoghan Cassidy, Cormac O'Doherty (0-5f); Mark McGuigan, Gerald Bradley (1-1), Deaglan Foley (0-1); Odhran McKeever (1-1), Sé McGuigan, Brian Cassidy (0-3)
SUBS: Shea Cassidy (0-2) for S McGuigan (46), Padhraig Nelis for E Cassidy (49), Brendan Laverty for D Foley (63), Ruairi McWilliams for D McCloskey (66)
YELLOW CARDS: M McGrath (31), O McKeever (32), B McGilligan (40), M McGuigan (50), R Mullan (52), Sean Cassidy (66), B Cassidy (68, 72)
RED CARD: B Cassidy (72)
REF: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin)
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