Offaly made a significant stride towards securing their place in the Joe McDonagh Cup final with an emphatic victory over Kildare in Hawkfield.
The result marked Offaly’s second triumph following wins over Laois and Kildare, and they appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time. With Down up next on home soil, Offaly’s destiny remains firmly within their grasp.
From start to finish, Offaly looked dominant, producing yet another commanding performance. Kildare were struggling to keep pace, and matters were compounded when Mark Delaney received a red card following an umpire’s intervention, leaving Kildare trailing 0-5 to 0-3. Despite their recent heavy defeat to Carlow, Offaly continued to press and punish their opponents, amassing a tally of 1-7 unanswered points. Cillian Kiely netted Offaly’s goal in the 16th minute, and by the 25th minute, Offaly had established an unassailable lead of 1-12 to 0-3.
To their credit, Kildare managed to secure two goals before the break, with James Burke and Cian Boran finding the net in the 26th and 35th minutes respectively. However, Offaly still held a commanding 1-18 to 2-6 interval advantage, leaving Kildare with an uphill battle in the second half.
Any hopes of a Kildare comeback were quickly extinguished as Eoghan Cahill struck a well-taken goal in the 47th minute, extending Offaly’s lead to 2-19 to 2-7. Cahill added a quick point, but Offaly seemed to take their foot off the gas, playing with less intensity and aggression. Kildare attempted to claw their way back into the game, securing three unanswered points. Nevertheless, Cillian Kiely ended Kildare’s run with a point in the 56th minute. The remainder of the game was somewhat academic, with Kildare netting a late consolation goal from a penalty by goalkeeper Paddy McKenna while Cillian Kiely missed an opportunity for Offaly, but the result was never in doubt. Overall, it was another impressive display from Offaly, who will be hoping to carry this form into their upcoming fixtures.
Scorers for Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 1-10 (6fs, 1 ’65’), Cillian Kiely 1-3, Adrian Cleary 0-3, Killian Sampson 0-2, Joey Keenaghan, Brian Duignan, Charlie Mitchell and Cathal Kiely 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kildare: Paddy McKenna 1-5 (1-0 pen, 4fs and 1 ’65’), James Burke and Cian Boran 1-1 each, Paul Dolan, Brian Byrne, Paul Divilly and Drew Costello 0-1 each.
Offaly: Stephen Corcoran; Ben Conneely, Ciaran Burke, David King; Jack Screeney, Jason Sampson, Killian Sampson; Cillian Kiely, Joey Keenaghan; Adrian Cleary, Jack Clancy, Eoghan Cahill; David Nally, Brian Duignan, Charlie Mitchell.
Subs: Paddy Clancy for Keenaghan (40m), Cathal Kiely for Mitchell (53m), Paddy Delaney for Jack Clancy (63m), John Murphy for Duignan (63m).
Kildare: Paddy McKenna; Niall O’Muineachain, Simon Leacy, Cian Shanahan; Jack Travers, Rian Boran, Paul Dolan; Johnny Byrne, Cathal McCabe; James Burke, Gerry Keegan, Mark Delaney; Brian Byrne, Cian Boran, Cathal Dowling.
Subs: Paul Divilly for Dowling (7m), David Qualter for Dolan (HT), John McKeown for O’Muineachain (46m), Sean Christiansen for Divilly (51m), Drew Costello for Travers (54m).
Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary)