Offaly 5-16 Carlow 1-13
It will be a Dublin v Offaly final for the first time since 2007 in the Bord Gais Energy Leinster U-21 Hurling Championship after the Faithful County surged clear of Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park on Wednesday evening, 23rd June.
This was the second game in a row that this spirited Offaly side struck for five goals, have easily disposed of Kildare in the quarter-finals.
Dublin, though, won’t be as easily overcome, having displayed impressive form by knocking-out reigning champions Wexford and giant-killers Westmeath en route to the final, which will take place at O’Connor Park on Wednesday, 6th July.
Carlow were optimistic entering this tie on the back of a narrow win over Laois in their only previous outing, but were prevented from hitting more goals thanks to the brilliance of Offaly net-minder Eoghan Cahill, whose heroics included saving a 50th minute penalty.
The teams were evenly matched in the opening 30 minutes but the difference was that while Carlow missed a couple of goal chances, Offaly struck for two in the space of a minute at the other end.
Killian Kiely fired the first to the net in the 18th minute after a powerful surge, and Oisin Kelly was in the right place at the right time less than 60 seconds later after the sliothar had come off the upright.
Earlier, Cahill had saved brilliantly from Conor Foley to keep Carlow at bay, and the sides were level on four occasions before Offaly made their major breakthroughs.
Offaly held a four point cushion at the interval (2-8 to 0-10), but Carlow were far too slow off the mark after the resumption, and didn’t increase their tally until the 39th minute.
By then, Offaly had struck for another 1-3, the goal coming from centre forward Emmet Nolan. There was a glimmer of hope for the hosts in the 40th minute when Conor Foley raised their only green flag.
But with heavy intermittent showers making playing conditions difficult, Offaly replied with four unanswered points. And with Cahill saving the penalty and Carlow reduced to 14 players, Offaly finished strongly and brought their goals tally for the championship up to ten, with Nolan and Kelly firing home again.
Offaly Scorers: O Kelly & E Nolan (0-1f) 2-2 each, D Murray 0-8 (0-4f, 0-1’65), C Kiely 1-1, P Guinan, J O’Toole Greene, R Hughes 0-1 each.
Carlow Scorers: K McDonald 0-6f, C Foley 1-1, J Doyle 0-3, D Wall 0-2, J Kelly 0-1.
OFFALY: E Cahill; D Healy, D O’Toole Greene, P Delaney; A Cleary, B Conneely, D Doughan; D Wyer, P Guinan; J O’Toole Greene, D Murray, R Hughes; E Nolan, O Kelly, C Kiely.
Subs: C Freeman for Wyer (46), L Langton for Kiely (59), E Parlon for Guinan (60), JP Cleary for Hughes (60+1), C Taylor for Delaney (60+2)
CARLOW: J Barron; P Coughlan, G Cody, M Malone; J Murphy, S Whelan, E Redmond; K McDonald, D Wall; D O’Neill, J Doyle, C Foley; L Galway, T Joyce, J Kelly.
Subs: D Grennan for Galway (HT), J Whelan for O’Neill (44), A Casey for Redmond (49), K Hosey for Kelly (60+1), L Cummins for Coughlan (60+1)
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Wexford)