Joe McDonagh Cup
Courtesy of GAA.ie
By Kevin Egan at Glenisk O’Connor Park
Offaly have their place in the 2023 Joe McDonagh cup final locked down with one round of games to go, after their strong finish powered them past Kerry this afternoon in Glenisk O’Connor Park.
After playing out two close games already this year in the Allianz League, both of which were edged by the Faithful County, it was no surprise that this one was very much in the balance for long stretches too, with David Nally’s first half goal the only thing separating the sides after 45 minutes.
It was only Kerry’s lack of efficiency in converting their chances that saw them behind at that stage, particularly in terms of goal chances – however the final third of the game was a procession, as Offaly turned the screw defensively, locking down the Kingdom.
At the other end they gradually extended the margin out to double figures, with Eoghan Cahill, Brian Duignan, Killian Sampson and Eimhin Kelly all knocking over good points to ensure Johnny Kelly’s side finished with a flourish and now stand just 70 minutes away from a return to Liam MacCarthy Cup hurling, having been relegated in 2018.
It was all very different early on, as Kerry were very competitive, sharing the first ten points equally. Gavin Dooley was sharp at full-forward, Shane Conway dropped back from centre forward to hurl a lot of ball as a sweeper, and in truth Kerry would feel that they could have put a lot more on the board.
Offaly took a decisive leap forward after 20 minutes when U-20 star Charlie Mitchell drove at goal from the left corner and set up David Nally for a batted goal, and that simple, crisp play contrasted sharply with Kerry’s goal chances, none of which even tested Stephen Corcoran in the Offaly goal.
Eoin Ross had one great chance to set up Dooley but delayed his pass and eventually was blocked by Jason Sampson, while early in the second half, when the game was still competitive, Sampson did well to hook Jordan Conway and Pádraig Boyle couldn’t get a shot away when he got in behind the Offaly defence and took a pass from Fionán MacKessy.
A free from Boyle after 42 minutes reduced the gap to two points, 1-11 to 0-12, but that was as close as it was to get. Offaly picked off the next two scores, Boyle added another free in the 45th minute, and that was to be Kerry’s last score for 20 minutes, as Offaly rattled off seven in succession to make sure of their win.
Scorers for Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 0-13 (0-9f, 0-2 65s), David Nally 1-1 (0-1 sideline), Adrian Cleary 0-2, Brian Duignan 0-2, Jason Sampson 0-1, Cillian Kiely 0-1, Jack Clancy 0-1, Eimhin Kelly 0-1, Killian Sampson 0-1, Joey Keenaghan 0-1.
Scorers for Kerry: Shane Conway 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1 65), Pádraig Boyle 0-3 (0-2f), Gavin Dooley 0-2, Michael Leane 0-1, Eoin Ross 0-1, Fionán MacKessy 0-1, Jason Diggins 0-1.
Offaly: Stephen Corcoran; Ben Conneely, Ciarán Burke, Dara Maher; David King, Jason Sampson, Killian Sampson; Paddy Delaney, Jack Clancy; Cillian Kiely, Charlie Mitchell, Adrian Cleary; David Nally, Brian Duignan, Eoghan Cahill.
Subs: Eimhin Kelly for Cahill (16-19, temp), Eimhin Kelly for Delaney (45), Joey Keenaghan for Kiely (57), John Murphy for Cahill (68), Shane Dooley for Mitchell (68), Liam Langton for Cleary (70+1).
Kerry: Louis Dee; Kyle O’Connor, Evan Murphy, Eric Leen; Jason Diggins, Darragh Shanahan, Fionán MacKessy; Eoin Ross, Paudie O’Connor; Pádraig Boyle, Shane Conway, Michael Leane; Brandon Barrett, Gavin Dooley, Colin Walsh.
Subs: Jordan Conway for Barrett (half-time), Mikey Boyle for Shanahan (45), Dan Goggin for Dooley (45), Niall Mulcahy for Diggins (52), Keith Carmody for P O’Connor (64)
Referee: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin).