From the moment the draw was made it really was always going to be a Galway-Kilkenny provincial decider, but whether the Tribesmen have gone forward or back under new management is not clear to see from their opening two games against Westmeath and Offaly.
They gave Offaly a five-point headstart inside three minutes before, inevitably, Galway hit back after getting into their stride.
The outcome might have hung in the balance into the second-half had both sides remained at 15 men apiece, but the dismissal of Offaly captain Colin Egan seven minutes from the break put paid to that notion.
Egan can feel somewhat hard done by. Exchanges had become fraught and Galway skipper David Burke was lucky to escape with a booking for a challenge on Shane Dooley which saw the Tullamore man have to temporarily go off for treatment to a facial wound.
Moments later Egan came from distance and clattered into Fergal Moore, with Cork referee Colm Lyons dishing out a red card.
Galway manager Micheal Donoghue agreed it was a harsh call in the heavy rain and wind.
“I think with the elements and the conditions, it was probably harsh. The ground was very slippy. You’d have to give players a bit of leeway in that. There were a few incidents where the conditions did play a part in it so I don’t think there was any malice in the challenge.”
Donoghue was pleased with the way his men responded to early Offaly blitz, getting back on level terms when Niall Burke found the net after 13 minutes after Joe Bergin had stunned the Tribesmen with his goal after just 15 seconds.
“I knew coming into the game that the lads were in a good position so obviously not the ideal start but I think they showed great character in responding to being 1-2 down,” added Donoghue.
“We worked through the lines and got back into the game and I suppose we were in a good position at half time, only being one down.
“Obviously having the elements in the second-half, we knew we needed a good start and we controlled it well for the first 10 or 15 minutes and built up the lead. When we had created a gap, we probably took our foot off the pedal. We’re delighted to get to a Leinster final but we know we still have a lot of work to do.”
Galway never led in the opening half against the breeze and Dooley’s point which put them 1-7 to 1-6 in front on half-time put him into the history books as Offaly’s all-time championship scorer as he edged past Brian Caroll’s record of 5-194.
Offaly needed to contain Galway after half-time but they were punished for not clearing their lines and Cathal Mannion set Conor Cooney up for a goal.
They outscored Offaly by 0-10 to 0-1 in a blistering 16-minute spell, but a goal from a penalty by Dooley after Bergin was fouled cut the gap to 2-15 to 2-9 with 13 minutes left.
There was further concern for Galway when Conor Cooney was sent off on the advice of a linesman for what seemed an innocuous incident, but Galway pulled away with Joe Canning bringing his total to 0-8 to set up a repeat of the All-Ireland final on July 3.
J Canning 0-8 (6f, 1 ’65); C Cooney 1-3; N Burke 1-0; P Mannion 0-2, David Burke 0-2, J Cooney 0-2; C Whelan 0-1, C Donnellan 0-1.
S Dooley 1-5 (1-0 pen, 4f); J Bergin 1-1; D Mooney 0-1, P Murphy 0-1, J Mulrooney 0-1.
C Callanan; J Coen, J Hanbury, F Moore; P Mannion, Daithi Burke, A Harte; David Burke, D Glennon; N Burke, J Cooney, J Canning; C Whelan, C Mannion, C Cooney.
C Donnellan for Glennon (47), J Flynn for N Burke (51), A Smith for David Burke (71).
J Dempsey; N Wynne, P Rigney, C McDonald; D King, S Gardiner, D Mooney; S Ryan, P Murphy; S Kinsella, S Dooley, J Mulrooney; K Connolly, J Bergin, C Egan.
K Kiely for Mulrooney (36), E Nolan for Connolly (36), P Guinan for Ryan (45), S Cleary for Murphy (68).
Colm Lyons (Cork)