Eirgrid Leinster U-20 Football Championship
Offaly 3-7, Louth 0-13
Kevin Egan at Faithful Fields
All-Ireland champions Offaly had to lean on all their know-how and momentum to come through a stiff test of their credentials at the Faithful Fields last night, as Jamie Guing’s goal with six minutes to play proved to be the crucial score to see off Louth and set up a quarter-final clash with Carlow next week.
Louth hit the ground running with some sumptuous attacking football in the early stages. Spectacular points from Beanón Corrigan and Ben Collier helped them into an early 0-5 to 0-2 lead, while Offaly also needed goalkeeper Seán O’Toole to come up with a strong save to deny Kieran McArdle at close range.
Darragh Flynn rattled the net in the 15th minute to level the game but Louth replied well, only to be rocked back by a second goal, this time from a Keith O’Neill penalty.
Kyle McElroy knocked over a good score to stunt Offaly’s momentum, and when Evan Maher sent over a haymaker in stoppage time, the game was nicely poised at the break, 2-4 to 0-9.
The scores dried up in the second half and going into the last five minutes, the teams were deadlocked at 2-5 to 0-11. At this stage however Offaly’s greater experience and conditioning stood to them, as they kept running to the end while Louth started to show signs of tiredness.
Morgan Tynan, who played with the seniors in the O’Byrne Cup this year, set up Guing for a close range goal, and later added an insurance point of his own, while captain Lee Pearson also stepped up with a dynamic run that set up a Guing point, covering 60 metres through a Louth defence that simply didn’t have the reserves to keep pace with Offaly any longer.
Scorers for Offaly: J Guing 1-1, D Flynn 1-0, K O’Neill 1-0 pen, M Tynan 0-3 (0-2f), C Delaney 0-1, H Plunkett 0-1f, A Strong 0-1.
Scorers for Louth: K McElroy 0-4 (0-2f, 0-1m), B Corrigan 0-2 (0-1 45), B Brady 0-2, B Collier 0-2, C Gillespie 0-1f, E Maher 0-1, D McKeown 0-1.
Offaly: S O’Toole; L Pearson, D Finneran, T Hyland; G O’Meara, J Furlong, J Sheerin; M Tynan, A Strong; F Dempsey, H Plunkett, M Dalton; C Delaney, K O’Neill, D Flynn. Subs: C Ryan for O’Meara (h-t), J Guing for Plunkett (36), D Kilmurray for Hyland (43).
Louth: J Finlay; R McBride, P McKenny, M Holohan; J McDonnell, P Lynch, C Sands; B Corrigan, E Maher; B Brady, B Collier, K McArdle; S Reynolds, K McElroy, C Gillespie. Subs: L Flynn for Collier (7, temp), L Flynn for Gillespie (h-t), D McKeown for Sands (50), C Taaffe for Holohan (60+2).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).