Offaly have been relegated to the Christy Ring Cup for 2020 after losing out to Kerry in Tralee this afternoon in the fifth and final round of the Joe McDonagh Cup.
In the end, just two points separated the sides after the Kingdom held off a spirited second-half showing from the Faithful men whom trailed by five at the break after being reduced to 14 men early on.
The visitors' brilliant start had them leading by 0-4 to nothing six minutes in before half-forward Peter Geraghty received his marking orders and on 12 minutes they would see a Shane Dooley penalty saved by John B O'Halloran.
Kerry weren’t long coming into the game after that and drew level on 0-5 apiece by the 26th minute thanks to a fine solo effort from Patrick Kelly.
Shane Conway put the home side into their first lead a minute later before doubling it and as they yearned for the half-time whistle, Joachim Kelly’s men were hit with a hammer blow when Padraig Boyle lashed home a Kerry goal to leave it at 1-7 to 0-5 for the break.
Dooley hit Kerry’s net four minutes into the restart to seemingly breathe new life into the Faithful County but they couldn’t steer themselves back in front.
Instead Shane and Jordan Conway stretched the Kerry lead out to three with points and they’d have it up to five late on, leaving their opponents in need of goals in injury-time.
Only points came instead, leaving Kelly’s men two short at the final whistle and a painful demotion to the third tier to try and stomach over the coming weeks and months.
Kerry - J B O'Halloran; J O'Connor, B Murphy, S Weir; D Goggin, M Boyle, D Collins; J Buckley, T O'Connor; M O'Leary, S Conway (0-11f), P Kelly (0-1); P Boyle (1-1), J Conway (0-2), J Goulding (0-1). Subs: C Harty (0-2) for D Goggin, M Slattery for J Goulding.
Offaly - E Cahill (0-2f); N Houlihan, B Conneely, M Egan; D Egan, C Kiely (0-1), E Parlon; S Kinsella, C Gath; S Cleary (0-4), D Gath, P Geraghty; K Connolly (0-1), O Kelly, S Dooley (1-6, 0-6f). Subs: J Bergin (0-1) for D Gath, D Nally for C Gath, T Spain for D Egan, J Gorman (0-1) for S Kinsella, S Dolan for K Connolly.
Referee - C Lyons.Tweet