Leinster Under 20 Football Championship Semi-Final: Offaly 1-11, Westmeath 1-09
Another Leinster final beckons for Offaly after a two point victory over Westmeath in the Under 20 Football Championship at TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar.
Declan Kelly’s side came away from Wexford with a one point victory last week, and with Westmeath having disposed of Kildare and Longford, a close game was expected. But Offaly were the better team for most of the hour and had they taken a greater percentage of their chances, would have won with more to spare.
There’s little time to prepare for the final, for they take on Dublin on Thursday, 22nd July, in Portlaoise.
Offaly got off to a promising start when a 12th minute goal by Cormac Egan put them in the driving seat. But a Jack Bryant point was their only other score before the first water break, with the scoreboard reading 1-1 to 0-2.
Full-forward Bryant added a couple more points before Devin Hill replied with a Westmeath goal, but Bryant and substitute Cormac Delaney (free) ensured Offaly led 1-5 to 1-3 at the break, even if the margin should have been greater at that stage.
Jack Bryant also opened the second half scoring, but Westmeath came fighting back and by the 38th minute had drawn level for the first time in the game – 1-6 apiece. Despite a fine point from Keith O’Neill, the home side hit the next two scores to edge ahead.
At this stage, it was very worrying for Offaly, but they responded magnificently. Cormac Egan, Jack Bryant and Aaron Kellaghan all chipped in with superb points, and another free from top-scorer Bryant ensured Offaly held onto their lead at the end, despite late Westmeath pressure.
Offaly: Jack Bryant 0-7 (4f), Cormac Egan 1-1, Cormac Delaney (f), Aaron Kellaghan and Keith O’Neill 0-1 each.
Westmeath: Ben McGauran 0-5 (4f), Devin Hill 1-1, Shane Fleming (mark), Jack Torpey, Liam Moran 0-1 each.
OFFALY: Sean O’Toole (Shamrock); Fionn Dempsey (Bracknagh), Kieran Dolan (Shamrocks), Lee Pearson (Edenderry); Rory Egan (Edenderry), John Furlong (Tullamore), Aaron Brazil (Shannonbridge); Ed Cullen (Clara), Morgan Tynan (Ballinagar); Ciaran Egan (Tullamore), Cathal Flynn (Ferbane); Cathal Donoghue (Kilcormac/Killoughey); Cormac Egan (Tullamore), Jack Bryant (Shamrocks), Aaron Kellaghan (Rhode). Subs – Cormac Delaney (Clara) for Tynan, inj. (9m), Keith O’Neill (Clonbullogue) for Ciaran Egan (37m), Tom Hyland (Bracknagh) for Dempsey (42m), Harry Plunkett (Tullamore) for Kellaghan, inj. (59m),
WESTMEATH: Sean Martin; Josh Gahan, Charlie Drumm, Ciaran Daly; Enda Gaffney, Darragh Seery, Michael Byrne; Jack Murtagh, Ciaran Daly; Shane Fleming, Kevin O’Sullivan, Brandon Kelly; Jack Torpey, Ben McGauran, Devin Hill. Subs – Liam Moran for O’Sullivan (27m), Senan Baker for Murtagh (H/T), Stephen O’Connor for Kelly, inj. (37m), Jordan McDonnell for Byrne (48m), Kehn Ruzzell for Daly (52m),
Referee – Seamus Mulhare (Laois).