Dublin survived a late scare from a battling Offaly team, who were missing six first choice players going into this Leinster GAA Hurling Championship quarter-final match at Croke Park this afternoon to advance to the semi-finals by 2-21 to 1-20.
The Capital hype machine is cranking up the gears behind Anthony Daly’s newly crowned National League Champions but in fairness to Joe Dooley’s visitors if the conceding of an early goal and losing a late three pointer that proved the difference for the Dubs and the midlanders from causing an upset. Goals from Paul Ryan and second half substitute Peadar Carton sent the Dubs through to the next round.
But in between those goals a fine solo display from Shane Dooley managed to keep his depleted Offaly side in the game as he racked up a personal tally of 1-13.
Dublin were on top for most of the first half and this was confirmed as early as the third minute. A great run through the Offaly defence by David O’Callaghan saw him dragged down in the area. Ryan stood up and slotted the penalty home.
Conal Keaney was on fire in both the half and full-forward line, bringing others into the play. Ryan O’Dwyer, Ryan and Alan McCrabbe looked to put the Dubs in complete control with their scores along with one from Keaney.
But needless frees from Daly’s men stopped them running away and with the talent of Dooley at Offaly’s disposal they were made pay. His points kept chipping away at the Dublin score to keep this game alive. He managed to score all but one of Offaly’s 1-8 in the first half. The pick of his scores came when he calmly stuck over a point in front of the Hogan Stand.
But the turning point of the match came when the one-man show Dooley stepped up to the plate right on half-time. A long ball forward was collected by the 2010 GAA All Star nominee; he turned Oisín Gough inside and fired past Gary Maguire. Another free from Dooley meant the sides went in at half-time, 1-9 to 1-8.
The second half started off the way it finished in the first with Dooley slotting over the bar to level up the scores. But that point seemed to almost wake up Dublin and Daly’s men started to play hurling the way they know how. O’Dwyer, Ryan (0-2) and McCrabbe helped Dublin stretch out their lead and it looked like they were playing the hurling that helped win their Allianz Hurling League Division 1 title against Kilkenny.
Offaly’s luck looked to be going against them when midfielder Derek Molloy received his second yellow card in the 58th minute, giving them a mountain to climb. But points from Bergin and Dooley set up a grandstand finish for the final minutes of the game.
The teams were separated by two points with just one minute of game remaining when the late rally from Joe Dooley’s men was quashed. Second half sub Carton broke through the away sides defence and lashed his shot into the top corner to all but end the game.
With hype comes pressure and Daly knows his team will have to fire on all cylinders if the Dubs are to attain their Liam McCarthy grail this year.
Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, O Gough; M O’Brien, J McCaffrey, S Durkin; L Rushe, A McCrabbe; C McCormack, R O’Dwyer, C Keaney; D O’Callaghan, D Plunkett, P Ryan.
Offaly: J. Dempsey; M Verney, D Kenny, S Egan; D Hayden, E Murphy, D Morkan; C Mahon, D Molly; B Carroll, G Healion, C Egan; S Dooley, J Bergin, C Currams.