Offaly are Christy Ring Cup champions, after a 0-41 to 2-14 final win over Derry at Croke Park.
Offaly hurling is not quite back in the big-time just yet, but it is certainly back on an upward trajectory.
The rebuild had to start somewhere, after successive championship relegations in 2018 and 2019. In his second year at the helm, Michael Fennelly has helped the county to turn a corner. The Faithful have capped a successful 2021, backing up their National League promotion with the championship title.
They can now look ahead to 2022 with optimism, where they will compete in Division 1 of the league before their Joe McDonaghy Cup campaign.
It was clear that they were a class above their opponents right from the off at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon. Oisin Kelly had a sight on goal in the opening stages, but knocked the sliotar over for a point.
Derry looked to hold their own, levelling it at 0-2 apiece, before Offaly made their move, hitting 10 points without reply.
Half-forward John Murphy tagged on four eye-catching scores in the opening quarter, as Offaly asserted their dominance.
The Oak-Leafers did fire back, with Gerald Bradley hitting the net in the 21st minute. But the Leinster side were in cruise control at the break, leading 0-19 to 1-7.
Six Eoghan Cahill points in the third quarter pushed Offaly 14 points ahead at the second water break, as they eased away from Derry.
Oisin Kelly was another to lift it a level after the break, hitting four of his seven points in the second half.
A late Odhran McKeever goal did little to put gloss on the scoreboard from a Derry perspective. Luke O’Connor, Shane Dooley, Aidan Treacy and Shane Kinsella all tagged on scores, as Offaly ran out 21-point winners.
The victory ensures championship silverware for the Faithful County for the first time since 1998, as they win promotion back to Joe McDonagh Cup.
Offaly: Eoghan Cahill (0-13, 0-9f), Oisín Kelly (0-7), John Murphy (0-5), Aidan Treacy (0-3), Luke O’Connor (0-2), Shane Dooley (0-2, 0-2f), Shane Kinsella (0-2), Leon Fox (0-2), Killian Sampson (0-1), Damien Egan (0-1), Ben Conneely (0-1), Liam Langton (0-1), Jason Sampson (0-1).
Derry: Cormac O’Doherty (0-5, 0-5f), Gerald Bradley (1-1), Odhran McKeever (1-1), Brian Cassidy (0-3), Shea Cassidy (0-2), Deaghlan Foley (0-1), Richie Mullan (0-1).
1. Conor Clancy
2. Paddy Delaney
3. Ciarán Burke
4. David King
5. Aidan Treacy
6. Ben Conneely
7. Killian Sampson
8. Leon Fox
9. Ross Ravenhill
12. Jason Sampson
11. Liam Langton
10. John Murphy
13. Eoghan Cahill
14. Brian Duignan
15. Oisín Kelly
Luke O’Connor for Liam Langton (45th minute)
Eimhín Kelly for Leon Fox (50th minute)
Shane Kinsella for Jason Sampson (55th minute)
Shane Dooley for Brian Duignan (59th minute)
Damien Egan for Eoghan Cahill (62nd minute)
1. Oisín O’Doherty
2. Meehaul McGrath
3. Seán Cassidy
4. Darragh McCloskey
8. Eoghan Cassidy
5. Brian McGilligan
7. Richie Mullan
9. Cormac O’Doherty
10. Mark McGuigan
19. Deaghlan Foley
11. Gerald Bradley
12. John Mullan
13. Odhran McKeever
14. Sé McGuigan
15. Brian Cassidy
Shea Cassidy for Sé McGuigan (46th minute)
Pádhraig Nelis for Eoghan Cassidy (50th minute)
Brendan Laverty for Deaghlan Foley (63rd minute)
Ruairí McWilliams for Darragh McCloskey (66th minute)
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