Allianz Hurling League Division 2A semi-final
Courtesy of GAA.ie
By Kevin Egan at Glenisk O’Connor Park
Superior accuracy in front of the posts proved to be the difference between two otherwise evenly matched sides this afternoon at Glenisk O’Connor Park in Tullamore, as Offaly came good in the final quarter to set up a rematch with Kildare in next week’s Allianz League Division 2A final.
Kerry had luck on their side in that a fresh breeze blew at their backs in the first half and a heavy shower of rain just before the break killed the strength of the wind considerably, but they also played by far the more controlled and thoughtful hurling in the opening 35 minutes. Jordan Conway was outstanding at midfield, Eoin Ross and Daniel Collins came from deep with several powerful runs, and they created some outstanding chances.
The problem for Stephen Molumphy’s men was their inability to convert them. Alongside 13 first half points, they racked up 12 wides, all from opportunities where the striker of the sliotar was well within his rights to take on the shot. Add in six more wides and three shots dropped short after half-time, and this will make for painful viewing when the video analysis sessions take place early next week.
Meanwhile at the other end, some aimless clearances from the Offaly backs were mopped up by Kerry’s half-back line, with Mikey Boyle dropping deep from the forward line to act very effectively as a sweeper in that sector.
Eight of Offaly’s ten first half points came from placed balls, but right from the restart, they were a transformed side and looked much more potent up front.
Eoghan Cahill and David Nally got them on their way with good scores from play, but the real star of the show up front was University of Galway first year student Charlie Mitchell, who picked off two points himself but also did a wonderful job of bringing other players around him into the game. The introduction of Paddy Clancy up front also gave the Faithful County a focal point in their attack, while further back down the pitch, Ciarán Burke, Ben Conneely and Dara Maher did well at shutting down their direct opponents, with only Pádraig Boyle offering any real threat for the visitors.
Kerry’s last lead of the game was with 15 minutes gone in the second half when a free from Boyle made it 0-15 to 0-14 in their favour, but the next five points of the game all went Offaly’s way, including some gorgeous strikes from Mitchell, Adrian Cleary, Paddy Clancy and Jason Sampson.
There was a brief burst of resistance from Kerry when Boyle pointed a free and Brandon Barrett split the uprights with his first touch after coming onto the pitch, but Offaly came again with another four in a row, and perhaps more importantly, they kept their goal intact, with Kerry’s only half goal chance (a shot on the turn from Boyle that was well saved by Stephen Corcoran) arriving so deep into stoppage time that even had the Ballyduff man found the target, it wouldn’t have been enough to save their promotion hopes.
Scorers for Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 0-13 (0-11f, 0-1 65), David Nally 0-3 (0-1 sideline), Charlie Mitchell 0-2, Dara Maher 0-1, Adrian Cleary 0-1, Jason Sampson 0-1, Paddy Clancy 0-1, Liam Langton 0-1.
Scorers for Kerry: Pádraig Boyle 0-8 (0-7f), Shane Conway 0-4f, Jordan Conway 0-2, Daniel Collins 0-2, Eoin Ross 0-1, Kyle O’Connor 0-1, Brandon Barrett 0-1.
Offaly: Stephen Corcoran; Ben Conneely, Ciarán Burke, Conor Hardiman; Dara Maher, Jason Sampson, Killian Sampson; Paddy Delaney, Jack Clancy; Eoghan Cahill, Charlie Mitchell, Adrian Cleary; David Nally, Shane Dooley, Cillian Kiely.
Subs: David King for Hardiman (half-time), Paddy Clancy for Dooley (48), Joey Keenaghan for Delaney (64), Liam Langton for J Clancy (68).
Kerry: John B O’Halloran; Jason Diggins, Evan Murphy, Seán Weir; Eoin Ross, Fionnán Mackessy, Kyle O’Connor; Daithí Griffin, Daniel Collins; Shane Conway, Jordan Conway, Michael Boyle; Dan Goggin, Michael Leane, Pádraig Boyle.
Subs: Eric Leen for M Boyle (23), Gavin Dooley for Goggin (half-time), Keith Carmody for Weir (46), Brandon Barrett for Griffin (61), Cillian Trant for Ross (70).
Referee: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin).