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Bradley leads Oak Leaf charge as Offaly fall into drop zone

Derry 1-15 Offaly 0-13

Damian McErlain
Damian McErlain

By Steven Doherty

Derry's bright prospects shone through a dark, winter afternoon at Celtic Park with a five-point win over an Offaly side now mired in the Division Three relegation zone after falling to their third consecutive defeat.

Emmett Bradley top-scored for the Oakleaf County with 1-5, while youngster Padraig McGrogan produced a man of the match showing at the back for Damian McErlain's young guns.

But for the heroics of Offaly keeper Barry Rohan, who twice denied Derry's Niall Toner with goal-saving stops, Derry would have found themselves further ahead than 1-6 to 0-5 half-time.

Derry's goal came courtesy of rampaging midfielder Bradley who side-footed home after another Toner shot was parried in the 13th minute.

Having struggled for any rhythm or form, Offaly finally came to the party when Bobby O'Dea opened their account in the 18th minute. Early second half points from danger men Bernard Allen and Nigel Dunne then reduced the Derry lead to just two.

Stung into action, Damian McErlain's men finally stopped the Offaly rot when a third Lynn point brought an end to seven consecutive points from the visitors.

After that Derry had just enough to keep their feisty opponents at arm's length and when they nailed three of the last four points of the contest the first victory of the season was theirs.

The win lifts the home side out of the drop zone, the defeat leaves Offaly very much in it. Tougher tasks lie ahead with away trips to Fermanagh and Armagh up but McErlain can be happy.

"The whole thing is a work in progress and it's great to get off the mark," said McErlain. "We started off very brightly. We dipped a wee bit and let them back into it. But thankfully we kept it tight and we didn't concede any goals.

"Our midfield gave us a bit of a platform," he continued, "but overall it was a good team performance given the heavy conditions. It gives the boys a bit of a lift and we look forward now to next weekend."

Derry scorers: E Bradley 1-5 (0-3f), E Lynn 0-3, N Toner 0-2 (0-1f), M Bateson, T O'Brien, D Tallon, M Lynch and J Kielt 0-1 each.

Offaly: N Dunne 0-7 (0-5f), D Hogan 0-2, B Allen 0-2 (0-1f), B O'Dea and S Tierney 0-1 each.

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