Offaly proved their credentials as Joe McDonagh Cup contenders on Saturday afternoon in Glenisk O’Connor Park as Eoghan Cahill inspired them to victory over Carlow in the fourth round of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 2A.
In a rain-soaked Tullamore, the visitors struggled to get to grips with their opponents intensity and crispness as Tom Mullally watched his side fall to a third defeat of the season.
Two superb scores from play along with some fine free-taking from Cahill saw Johnny Kelly’s team take a 0-09 to 0-04 lead with ten minutes of an attritional opening half remaining.
Scores from the returning Chris Nolan (2), fellow star forward Marty Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne, and Jack Kavanagh provided some much-needed respite for the Barrowsiders.
That is all that it was however, as Cahill added two more frees and points from Killian Kiely and Charlie Mitchell gave the Faithful County a deserved 0-11 to 0-06 lead at the interval.
Needing a response from the start of the second half, Carlow cut Offaly’s lead to three points as Marty Kavanagh pointed three excellent frees and Ciarán Whelan grabbed a score from play to open his account for the day and make it 0-13 to 0-10.
The turning point in the game came in the fifteenth minute of a lively second half as Diarmuid Byrne received a second yellow card to the dismay of the travelling contingent as they were forced to play the remainder of the clash with 14-men.
Cahill made that advantage count and every score was needed as Killian Kiely was deemed to have made a foul that warranted another yellow card as he joined Byrne in the book and received his marching orders to even both sides out once more.
Another red card followed soon after as Jack Kavanagh received a straight red card from referee Michael Kennedy and Offaly powered through and confirmed their victory with an additional time goal from David Nally.
Jack McCullagh responded with a consolation goal for Carlow but it was too little, too late as they fell to a seven-point defeat.
Next up for Carlow is the final round of the league against Derry before preparations begin for their opening round clash in the Joe McDonagh Cup against Kildare.