Kilkenny finish strongly to oust valiant Offaly with strong final quarter

Leinster under-21 HC semi-final: Kilkenny 1-19 Offaly 1-13

Kilkenny’s Michael Brennan celebrates his goal against Offaly in Tullamore last night. Photograph: Inpho

Kilkenny’s Michael Brennan celebrates his goal against Offaly in Tullamore last night. Photograph: Inpho

 

Kilkenny were forced to dig very deep before edging out a tremendously brave Offaly side in an enthralling semi-final in Tullamore last night.

Trailing by 1-13 to 0-14 inside the last ten minutes, Kilkenny were staring a shock defeat in the face as they were forced into the back foot by an exceptionally hard working Offaly side.

Behind by a point at the break, Kilkenny scored the first three points of the second half but were stunned when the outstanding Stephen Quirke goaled from a 21-yard free in the 39th minute.

Inside the last ten minutes, a home victory was still a possibility before a brilliant goal from sub Michael Brennan put the winners 1-14 to 1-13 in front. Offaly had a golden chance to regain the initiative but Quirke’s penalty was blocked on the line .

A relieved Kilkenny took over after that, registering the final five points for an ultimately decisive win, though the final scoreline does not do justice to Offaly’s efforts.

In the first half, Offaly surprised Kilkenny as they carried the game to them from the throw in. With Quirke and John Power finding the range from placed balls, the sides were level at 0-3 each after 13 minutes before Offaly upped the ante. which saw them lead by 0-6 to 0-3 after 17 minutes – it would have been more but for a brilliant save from Kilkenny goalkeeper, Andrew Duggan from Adrian Hynes in the 15th minute.

Offaly were clearly the better team in the first half although Kilkenny steadied the ship before the interval and trailed by a point, 0-9 to 0-8 .

KILKENNY: A Duggan; J Nolan, W Phelan, P Walsh; J Corcoran, L Harney, B Kennedy; C Buckley (0-1), O McGrath; R Reid (0-1), J Power (0-10, seven frees , two 65s), O Walsh; G Aylward (0-1), K Kelly (0-4), S Donnelly (0-1). Subs: J Langton for Nolan (26 mins), M Brennan (1-1) for Reid (38 mins), C Martin for O Walsh (50 mins).
OFFALY: C Clancy; N Wynne, D Kelleher, M Cleary; S Gardner, P Camon, D King; T Carroll, S Cleary; S Dolan, A Kealey (0-1), P Geraghty; S Quirke (1-10, nine frees), T Geraghty (0-2), A Hynes. Sub: J Sampson for Kealey (57 mins).
Referee: J Heffernan (Wexford).