Louth and Kildare finished level at the top of Group B of the O’Byrne Cup as a result of their victories, but it is the Wee County that progress to a semi-final against Meath by virtue of their comfortable midweek victory over the Lilywhites at Hawkfield.
All four teams were level at the beginning of the day but with Louth trouncing DIT by 3-19 to 1-8 in Darver and Kildare accounting for Offaly 0-13 to 0-11 at O’Connor Park, it was Colin Kelly’s men that prevailed.
DIT were competitive early on despite Jim McEneaney’s goal, following a brilliant run by Adrian Reid, and it looked like they would go in level at the break, only for Barry Flanagan to net right on the stroke of the short whistle.
That left Louth leading by 2-4 to 0-7 and boosted by that score, they gradually pulled away, with McEneaney having an impact from play and placed balls.
Tommy Durnin found the DIT net 19 minutes from time to remove any doubt and it was a procession from there, with Declan Byrne, Flanagan, Mick Rafferty, McEneaney and Conall McKeever registering points.
This ends Kildare’s run of five consecutive final appearances but Cian O’Neill will be satisfied to be going into the League, where they will bid to come out of Division 3, with two wins behind them and having given starts to more than 30 players.
Alan Mulhall made two excellent early saves for Offaly and Kerry native – son of All-Ireland winning manager Jack – scored a point with his first touch in his first start for his adopted county. Cathal McNally added to Kildare’s tally but Offaly responded with the next four, as dual player Shane Dooley got on the mark.
It was touch and go for the remainder of the game though, with neither side able to break free. The sides were level on 0-9 apiece mid-way through the second half but a brace of points from Ray Cahill, and scores from O’Connor and substitute Seamus Hanafin ensured the Kildare had their noses in front at the final whistle.
Longford won Group D on score difference as they finished level with Wicklow and Westmeath, and will now play Group A victors Dublin in Glennon Bros Pearse Park next week. Denis Connerton’s men overcame Wicklow 1-9 to 1-5 while University of Maynooth edged out Westmeath by 0-10 to 0-9.
Paddy Byrne gave Wicklow a dream start with an early goal but the exchanges were tight thereafter and when James McGivney found the net at the other end in the 30th minute, it only made it 1-2 to 1-1 in the home side’s favour.
It was nip and tuck throughout the second half but Longford had slightly more scoring power and Colm P Smyth was among the scorers as they cemented their place in the last four.
Westmeath only needed a draw to progress but a point in the dying seconds from Laois forward, Evan O’Carroll denied them.
In Group A, from which Dublin emerged, Wexford were comfortable winners over IT Carlow, scoring three second-half goals in a 3-20 to 1-12 result.
In Group C, which was won by Meath, UCD had far too much ammunition for Carlow 2-13 to 1-07.