In a typical low-scoring January encounter it was Offaly who came away with the bragging rights thanks to a late point from the boot of substitute Paul McPadden. In the greater scheme of things the outcome means very little as Pat Flanagan did not place too much emphasis on The O’Byrne Cup. Injuries and college commitments meant he was forced to yet again field a very experimental side.
New Offaly manager and Kinnegad native Emmet McDonnell placed a much greater emphasis on the early season competition as he tries to lift morale in the Faithful County and get them back into the habit of winning. He has now made it three wins of three albeit fielding a side that won’t be too different come championship.
Calum McCormack remained sidelined through injury and Dessie Dolan and Denis Glennon were both forced off in the opening half. Without this trio Westmeath were found wanting up front and could only muster a single second-half point coming from the boot of the impressive midfielder Paul Bannon.
The home side enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the opening half and were in a good position leading 0-6 to 0-2 at the break. Offaly dominated much of the second half and probably just about deserved their win given how toothless Westmeath were up front.
Flanagan will be relatively happy with what he has seen from his side so far. McCormack, Dolan, and Glennon looked a very potent force in the opening game against AIT. The second midweek outing against Laois saw an under-strength Lake County side put up a great battle against a strong Laois side. Paul Sharry’s performance at centre-back against Offaly was hugely encouraging while new additions like David McCormack, Ciaran Curley, and Darragh Daly look to have plenty to offer in the season ahead.
The win secured a semi-final meeting for Offaly against neighbours Kildare in what is a dress rehearsal for the opening championship match.