Galway run out comfortable winners over 14 man Offaly in Leinster U-21 Hurling Championship
Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U-21 Hurling Championship quarter-final
Galway ran out comfortable winners in the end in this Leinster U-21 Hurling Championship clash with Offaly in Bord na Mona O'Connor Park but the final scoreline doesn't do justice to the valiant efforts of the home team.
On a windy night in Tullamore, Galway were always in control but they only really opened up the gap in the last ten minutes after Offaly's Oisin Kelly was very harshly sent off. Even after watching the replays, it was difficult to see what the Belmont man did to deserve such a punishment.
Over the previous 50 minutes, Offaly did not look outclassed but Galway were that bit sharper, that bit more precise in their play, that bit stronger and, most importantly, more accurate in their finishing.
Offaly had a number of half chances for goals, particularly in the first-half, but they were unable to convert any of them while they were also guilty of hitting too many wides when shooting for points from scoreable positions.
Galway opened the scoring inside the first 20 seconds when Ciaran Fahy pointed but Brian Duignan responded for Offaly with a point from a free after a monster puck out from Eoghan Cahill with the wind.
Galway hit the next three points to pull away but there was little to chose between the sides with the difference being Galway's accuracy in front of goals as Offaly wasted three good scoring chances.
Ten minutes in, sideline cut from Oisin Keely caused confusion in the Galway defence before they eventually cleared their lines
Soon after Sean Loftus launched over a point for Galway from the middle of the field to put Galway into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead.
Offaly responded immediately with a point from Wayne Mooney and two more long frees from Eoghan Cahill caused no little panic in the Galway defence but each time they managed to clear their lines.
Evan Niland put Galway into a four point lead again with his third point of the half but Offaly continued to build up the wides at the other end with Oision Kelly shooting wide when he had an instant chance to respond.
Galway almost got in for a goal but Ciaran Fahy was denied by a brave block from Eoghan Cahill in the Offaly goal from point blank range.
Evan Niland extended Galway's lead to five points with a point from a close range free but Brian Duignan responded for Offaly with a point from a '65.
However in the run up to half-time, Galway began to take control, particularly in their own half-back line and around the middle of the field as Offaly struggled to get any decent possession. Points from Brian Concannon and two from Sean Bleahane moved them seven clear before a point from a free from Brian Duignan, after he intercepted a ball in the Galway back-line, reduced the gap to six.
On the stroke of half-time, Sean Bleahane launched over another long-range point for the Tribesmen which left them with the advantage of a 0-11 to 0-4 lead at the break.
Evan Niland extended that advantage straight after the restart with another free but that was quickly cancelled out by a free from Brian Duignan.
Evan Niland added his sixth point from a free to make it 0-13 to 0-5 after 38 minutes and Sean Loftus followed up with his second after intercepting the ball in the Offaly half. Brian Duignan put over Offaly's sixth point midway through the half.
Galway came close to getting a goal with 47 minues on the clock but Eoghan Cahill made a second brilliant save of the game to deny Jack Canning.
However soon after Offaly's slim chances of mounting a comeback all but evaporated when Oisin Kelly was show an incredibly harsh red card for what looked like a totaly innocuous challenge on a Galway player.
Entering the last ten minutes, Galway held a 0-16 to 0-6 lead before Cathal O'Brien launched over a spectacular long range point for Offaly to get the gap under double digits.
Unfortunately for Offaly, Galway responded with a well worked and well taken goal from Sean Loftus who drilled the ball low and hard across Eoghan Cahill giving the Offaly 'keeper no chance.
Soon after Loftus was nearly in for a second goal but this time Cahill produced the save from close range.
Galway tacked on a string of points as Offaly tired before Eoin Woods pointed for Offaly deep into injury-time.
It was little more than a consolation score as Galway emerged comfortable winners by 1-20 to 0-8 and will now go on to face Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final.
OFFALY: Eoghan Cahill (Birr); Michael Gilligan (Seir Kieran), Ben Conneely (St Rynagh’s), Cathal O’Meara (Clara), Ross Connaughton (Carrig & Riverstown), Paddy Delaney (Kinnitty), Dylan Watkins (Birr); Cathal O’Brien (Shamrocks), David Buckley (Clodiagh Gaels); Brian Duignan (Ballinamere), Liam Langton (Clodiagh Gaels), Joe Keenaghan (Clodiagh Gaels); Conor Langton (Clodiagh Gaels); Oisin Kelly (Belmont); Wayne Mooney (Shamrocks). Subs: Joe Maher for Ross Connaughton (HT); Ciaran Cleary for C Langton (45mins); Eoin Callanan for W Mooney (45mins); Eimhin Kelly for Liam Langton (46mins); Eoin Woods for Brian Duignan (51mins)
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Ian O’Shea, Fintan Burke, Shane Bannon; Caelom Mulry, Mark Hughes, Sean Loftus; Thomas Monaghan, Jack Grealish; Sean Bleahane, Brian Concannon, Ciaran Fahy; Evan Niland, Ronan Murphy, Kevin Cooney. Subs: Jack Canning for Kevin Cooney (44mins); Adrian Greaney for Ian O'Shea (51mins); Conor Caulfield for Caelom Mulry (51mins)