Offaly midfielder Morgan Tynan
THERE will be great interest in Thursday's Leinster U-20 Football Championship semi-final between Offaly and Westmeath in Mullingar. Both sides will look on it as a great opportunity to reach the Leinster final and the shame is that only 500 supporters are allowed as this fixture could very easily attract ten times that number.
Meath and Dublin clash in the other semi-final the same night and the meeting of Offaly and Westmeath looks to be a real 50/50 one.
Westmeath are the slightest of favourites. They have home advantage and they have the benefit of two games under their belt. They had a fine 1-15 to 1-13 win over Kildare in the first round while they beat Longford on a penalty shootout last Thursday evening.
Offaly got their campaign off to a winning start last Thursday with a 1-10 to 1-9 win over Wexford in Wexford Park. While they ended up holding on for dear life, their win was a lot more comprehensive than the scoreline suggests. Offaly led by 1-10 to 0-6 well into the second half and that was a more accurate reflection of the game at that point.
That game should bring Offaly on in leaps and bounds. It was their first game of the campaign and Wexford is never an easy venue to come out of with a win. It will do Offaly's confidence good and players will improve.
Some of the 2020 minor team may also come into the equation now. They were pipped by Meath in the Leinster final a couple of weeks ago and John Furlong started at centre half back in Wexford while Keith O'Neill came on as a sub. Tullamore's Cormac Egan is certain to challenge strongly for a place and he is likely to be used in Mullingar as his pace and direct running is a great asset.
Offaly won't be making many changes from the team that won in Wexford. Midfielder Morgan Tynan went off late on after receiving a heavy knock in a bad challenge but is recovering well and he is important as he was playing very well.
Offaly have a lot of potential and they have the scope to get better. They have a well balanced team and they have exciting forwards in Jack Bryant, Aaron Kellaghan and Cormac Delaney. Offaly won't fear Westmeath either and a Leinster final berth is very much within reach for them.
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