Offaly 2-19 Galway 2-9
In the end, the result was all too predictable but there was still plenty of talking points as Galway navigated safe passage to the Leinster final with a comfortable 10 point win over Offaly in Portlaoise.
The Westerners were impressive when they hit full stride in the second half but they were given plenty of food for thought by a brave Offaly side especially in the first half.
Offaly had 1-2 scored before Galway knew what hit them and while the winners had the deficit back to a point, 1-7 to 1-6, at the break, they had been given plenty of problems by the underdogs.
A big part of the first half story was the controversial dismissal of Colin Egan for a ferocious shoulder hit on Galway corner back, Fergal Moore after 27 minutes. Offaly were leading by 1-5 to 1-3 at that stage and the sending off had a big bearing, particularly on the second half when Galway had the wind at their backs .
By the time Galway had kicked into gear they were themselves reduced to 14 - Conor Cooney saw red after the referee consulted with a linesman with 11 minutes left. At which stage they were 2-15 to 2-9 ahead and heading for the semi-finals.
The extra man had been a big factor as Galway wasted little time in turning the tables at the start of the second half. Cooney got in for a quick fire goal two minutes after the restart and they went on to score 1-5 without reply to go ahead by 2-11 to 1-7 after 46 minutes.
Galway went on to lead by 2-15 to 1-8 after 55 minutes and they played some quality hurling in that 20 minute period. Their power and pace created plenty of openings and they seemed to be given a lot of space by Offaly, even taking the numerical difference into account.
The losers did find a lifeline when a Joe Bergin point was followed by a penalty goal from Shane Dooley in the 58th minute. Cooney's dismissal followed a minute later - but a six point lead was still a very significant advantage at this stage of the game and Galway didn't panic for one second.
Instead they scored the final four points without reply and while Offaly were happy that they competed well for long periods, the final outcome was no surprise to either side.
Offaly played with great heart in the first half and they recovered well. The two red cards proved to be a talking point afterwards. Offaly manager Eamonn Kelly was unhappy at Egan's sending off, remarking that the game was played without a 'dirty belt' and arguing that the referee should have taken the conditions into account. Offaly fans were also aggrieved that Galway's David Burke only received a yellow card for a first half incident that left Dooley having to head to the sideline for treatment to repair a blood injury.
Galway manager, Michael Donoghue confirmed that he didn't see the Cooney incident but that the 'general mood' was that it wasn't a justified sending off and they would be looking at footage of it before deciding their next course of action.
“There was a big prize in getting to a Leinster final today and the lads put in a hard month to focus on getting the two wins that would get us there. The second half showed that we have a lot of work to do but it is back to the training ground this week and pushing it on.”
Donoghue was pleased with the character Galway showed after Offaly’s fine start. “We are happy with a lot of it but in other areas, there is serious room for improvement,” he added.
While Eamonn Kelly praised his panel for the huge effort they have given.
“We weren’t here to roll over and we knew the stakes were high playing quality opposition. We upped our game but Galway had a few more gears to go up.”
GALWAY: C Callanan; J Coen, J Hanbury, F Moore; P Mannion (0-2), Daithi Burke, A Harte; David Burke (0-2), D Glennon; N Burke (1-0), J Cooney (0-2), J Canning (0-8, 5f and 1 '65); C Whelan (0-1), C Mannion, C Cooney (1-3). Subs - C Donnellan (0-1) for Glennon (47m), J Flynn for N Burke (50m), A Smith for David Burke (72m).
OFFALY: J Dempsey; N Wynne, C McDonald, P Rigney; D King, S Gardiner, D Mooney (0-1); P Murphy (0-1), S Ryan; J Mulrooney (0-1), S Dooley (1-5, penalty and 4f), S Kinsella; C Egan, J Bergin (1-1), K Connolly.
Subs - C Kiely for Connolly (H/T), E Nolan for Mulrooney (H/T), P Guinan for Ryan (44m), B Conneely for Gardiner (57m), S Cleary for Murphy (68m),
Referee - C Lyons (Cork).