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Antrim suffer stoppage-time heartache in quest for Kehoe glory

Offaly 1-16 Antrim 1-15

In vain: Antrim’s Keelan Molloy was on target but it wasn’t enough
In vain: Antrim’s Keelan Molloy was on target but it wasn’t enough

By David Mohan

Oisin Kelly struck deep into stoppage time to secure the Kehoe Cup for Offaly at the expense of Antrim in Navan yesterday.

Kelly pounced just after a Dan McCloskey goal drew Antrim level in what turned out to be a thrilling finish to a game that Offaly really should have had wrapped up long before.

Offaly were first to find their rhythm with the first four points before Neil McManus got Antrim on the board from a '65' and added another from a free before Keelan Molloy grabbed their first from play a minute later.

Leon Fox and Peter Geraghty replied for Offaly with Molloy and McManus responding.

McManus hit points either side of Shane Kinsella and Geraghty efforts as Offaly led 0-9 to 0-7 at the break.

Kinsella extended the Offaly lead just after the interval, but they were to have five wides in succession as the Saffrons stayed in the game and hit their best point when Matthew Donnelly caught a high ball and burst out of defence before picking out Niall McKenna who did the rest.

McManus frees were to keep Antrim in touch as Offaly stuttered in attack, but they did just enough to remain ahead with Sean Cleary, Fox and Liam Langton (free) pointing before substitute David Nally landed a brace (one free) to see them three clear.

On his return to the team, Molloy continued with what was an impressive display as he clipped over another point and Antrim trailed by just 0-15 to 0-13 with 10 to play and momentum swinging their way.

However, the introduction of Brian Duignan for Offaly was to prove crucial as with his first touch after being introduced on 62 minutes, he rose to fetch a high ball, raced in and swept to the net.

Molloy fired over another couple of points to leave Antrim just a goal adrift and the major they needed came three minutes into stoppage time when Domhnall Nugent broke a long ball down to James McNaughton, who popped outside to McCloskey to crash to the net.

The Saffrons went in search of the lead but it was from an Offaly breakaway that Kelly fired over the winner.

Conor Johnston then saw a last-gasp shot for an equaliser from way out on the left drift narrowly wide as Offaly held on for the win.

OFFALY: J Dempsey; B Walkins, D Egan, P Rigney; M Cleary, B Conneely, D Doughan; B Murphy, L Fox (0-2); S Kinsella (0-2), P Geraghty (0-2), O Kelly (0-2); L Langton (0-4, 3 frees, 1 '65'), S Cleary (0-2), T Geraghty. Subs: D King for B Walkins (HT), D Nally (0-2, 1 free) for B Murphy (49), P Kinsella for S Cleary (51), B Duignan (1-0) for P Geraghty (62), K Dunne for L Fox (65), J Sampson for S Kinsella (68), R Ravinhill for L Langton (70+1).

ANTRIM: R Elliott; P Duffin, M Donnelly, S Rooney; G Walsh, E Campbell, C Boyd; K Molloy (0-5), N McKeague; M Bradley, N McManus (0-9, 5 frees, 2 65s), J McNaughton; D Nugent, A Delargy, N McKenna (0-1). Subs: R Molloy for N McKeague (42), Conor Johnston for A Delargy (42), R McCambridge for M Bradley (46), A O'Brien for C Boyd (46), D McCloskey (1-0) for N McKenna (54), C McHugh for S Rooney (66).

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).

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