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Monday 18 February 2019

O'Rorke and Burke lead the Sky Blue blitz

Dublin 2-19 Offaly 0-12

Doblin's Donal Burke. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Doblin's Donal Burke. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Twelve months ago, Dublin hurlers suffered a humbling 13-point defeat at home to Offaly. The level of revenge in Tullamore yesterday could not have been more precise: a 13-point victory for the visitors.

The other key difference? What happened in Croke Park last year was a surprise; what transpired in Bord na Móna O'Connor Park was entirely along predicted lines.

So, a positive day for the Dubs but not a complete disaster for the faltering Faithful, who at least regained a modicum of respect coming after the unmitigated disaster of their 27-point collapse to Waterford a week earlier.

"I thought Offaly played well - they put it up to us. We knew there was going to be a reaction from last week's defeat, and they're a proud hurling county," said Mattie Kenny afterwards.

"But we got some nice scores that stretched out the scoreboard a bit; the scoreboard looked maybe more comfortable than it was on the pitch."

The flip side is that it never once threatened to be uncomfortable either. From the moment Oisín O'Rorke ghosted onto Donal Burke's crossfield assist and arrowed an 11th minute goal inside Eoghan Cahill's left upright, Offaly went from parity to three points down - and they never got any closer.

They were 1-10 to 0-5 adrift at the break; reduced the margin to five via a hat-trick of Cahill frees from distance; but then O'Rorke's second goal in the 46th minute, another precision strike after Fiontán McGibb and Jake Malone had shredded Offaly's central corridor, ended any semblance of a contest.

The positives for Kenny were, to an extent, writ large over the match stats. O'Rorke shot 2-3 from play and won a penalty on the half-hour, only for Cahill to repel Seán Moran's attempt.

Yet Burke was better again, following up his 1-4 off the bench against Carlow last Saturday with a superlative 0-6 from play.

Kenny had made a handful of personnel changes and was thrilled to see two of them lead the scoring onslaught with 2-9 between them.

Of O'Rorke, he noted: "We played Ballyhale last Sunday morning and he was impressive in that. He was going well in training and he deserved his chance and did really, really well.

"Donal Burke played really well against Carlow and he shot five or six points there today. There's two really good contributions."

Meanwhile, former All Star Danny Sutcliffe showed plenty of sprightly movement and clever touches for a player making his first seasonal start.

"He did really well against Carlow when he came on, and he brought that form into today's game and got a full 70 minutes which is very, very positive, and I thought he put in a huge shift," Kenny enthused.

The only shame is that Liam Rushe's day at full-forward was over after just 26 minutes. "He picked up a knee injury. We're not too sure how serious it is or not at the moment - we have to get it checked out," the Dublin boss disclosed.

"For the 25 minutes he was on there, I thought he led the line really well. He was showing a really good physical presence, bossing that area of the pitch, getting on ball and linking up well with the guys. I was disappointed for Liam, that he had to come off, because he's mad for game-time."

SCORERS - Dublin: O O'Rorke 2-3, D Burke 0-6, J Hetherton 0-3 (2f), D Treacy (1f), F Whitely 0-2 each, L Rushe, S Moran, D Sutcliffe 0-1 each. Offaly: K Connolly (3f), E Cahill (3f) 0-3 each, P Murphy 0-2, O Kelly, C Gath, D Egan, K Dunne 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: A Nolan; C O'Callaghan, E O'Donnell, P Smyth; C Crummey, S Moran, S Barrett; S Treacy, D O'Connell; D Treacy, D Sutcliffe, R McBride; D Burke, L Rushe, O O'Rorke. Subs: E Dillon for Rushe (inj 26), J Malone for S Treacy (27), F McGibb for Barrett (ht), J Hetherton for D Treacy (41), F Whitely for McBride (57).

OFFALY: E Cahill; T Spain, N Houlihan, P Rigney; A Treacy, E Grogan, C Taylor; M Egan, K Dunne; D Egan, P Murphy, C Egan; C Gath, O Kelly, K Connolly. Subs: A Flynn for Taylor (inj 35+1), L Langton for M Egan (ht), S Dolan for Gath (50), E Parlon for Murphy (60).

WIDES: Dublin 11 (4+7); Offaly 11 (7+4).

YELLOW: Dublin 3 (Moran 31, Barrett 35, Sutcliffe 62); Offaly 1 (Spain 29).

REF: J Keenan (Wicklow).

ATT: 1,025.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Donal Burke (Dublin).

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