Kildare secure Leinster Final place

Kildare face the winners of tomorrow's Dublin/Meath clash in the Leinster Final following a marathon replay that went into extra-time against Offaly at Nowlan Park.

Offaly 1-14, Kildare 3-09 (aet)

It will not come much tougher than this for Kildare who held out for the narrowest of victories over Offaly after an enthralling 90 minutes of football in this Bank of Ireland Leinster SFC semi-final replay at Nowlan Park.

It was a game full of incident but will be remembered for its marvellous football over the 90 minutes.

Kildare may have secured their final passage but Offaly who played with 14 men for 48 minutes were decidedly unlucky not to have brought the game to a second replay.

The arch rivals produced a blistering opening 35 minutes with some splendid scores.

It was a period which had about everything with Offaly being reduced to 14 players after 22 minutes when Sean Grennan received a second yellow card followed by a red.

It was at this juncture that Referee Paddy Russell had to take a firm grip on proceedings for within two minutes he issued yellow cards to both Brian Lacey and Pascal Kellaghan, but the game settled down following this spell as both sides went on to produce quality football.

Kildare - as in the drawn game - got off to a dream start leading 0-4 to 0-1 after just 13 minutes.

Eddie McCormack pointed Kildare in front within 30 seconds of the start, with John Doyle, one a free, adding two further points, before Offaly opened their account through Roy Malone on 11 minutes.

When Tadgh Fennin capitalised on fine approach football involving Martin Lynch and John Doyle to move his side into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 13 minutes it looked as if Kildare were about to assume control.

But the battling qualities of this Offaly side suddenly became prevalent as they hit a real purple patch with Ciaran McManus taking control of midfield. Points flowed from a McManus 45, after Kildare keeper had affected a splendid save from Sean Grennan who should have really finished with a goal.

Two Roy Malone points had the sides level 0-4 apiece after 16 minutes. McManus put Offaly in front for the first time through a pointed free. After Karl Slattery had increased his sides advantage came the Sean Grennan sending off incident, but it did not deter a fighting Offaly side who added points through James Grennan and McManus, with John Doyle sandwiching one in between for Kildare.

One minute before the break Kildare amazingly were back on level terms when midfielder Dermot Earley beat a cluster of hands in the Offaly goalmouth to flick a high Martin Lynch ball to the net.

But it was Offaly who finished with Roy Malone and Ciaran McManus points to lead 0-10 to 1-5 at the break.

Whatever Mick O’Dwyer said to his charges at the break had the desired effect for within two minutes of the re-start Eddie McCormack waltzed through for a magnificent goal.

The Offaly response, however, was swift with points from Colm Quinn and Karl Slattery, a superb effort, restoring their one point advantage.

But all the drama was to follow as a superb Martin Lynch crossfield ball was clinically finished to the net by Ronan Sweeney.

A further Tadgh Fennin point moved the Lilywhites into a 3-6 to 0-12 lead, but as in the drawn game a superb Ciaran McManus penalty, after Barry Mooney had been fouled brought the sides level, and amazingly this was the last score of normal time, but it must be said both sides had their chances of snatching a late victory.

The opening 10 minute period of extra time produced just three scores. After Ciaran McManus had restored Offaly’s lead, Kildare gradually got themselves back following points through Martin Lynch and Ronan Sweeney to give the Lilywhites a 3-8 to 1-13 lead the break.

The second 10 minute period produced just a single point apiece. Patrick Murray had extended Kildare’s lead but Colm Quinn’s pointed free arrived in additional time leaving no time for the midlanders to seek an equalising point.

Kildare: E. Murphy, B. Lacey, P. Mullarkey, K. Doyle, T. Harris, D. Hendy, A. Rainbow, K. Brennan, D. Earley (1-0), E. McCormack (1-1), J. Doyle (0-3 frees), R. Sweeney (1-1), T. Fennin (0-2), M. Lynch (0-1), P. Brennan.

Subs: R. Quinn for Mullarkey; K. O’Dwyer for K. Brennan; G. Ryan for Harris; P. Hurley for P. Brennan; K. Duane for McCormack; P. Murray (0-1)for R. Quinn; D. McCormack for Hurley.

Offaly: P. Kelly, C. Daly, J. Kenny, B. Mooney, G. Rafferty, F. Cullen, K. Slattery (0-2), J. Grennan (0-1), C. McManus (1-6, 1-0 pen; 0-4 frees), N. Coughlan, S. Grennan, A. McNamee, C. Quinn (0-2 frees), R. Malone (0-3), P. Kellaghan.

Subs: V. Claffey for Coughlan; P. Mulhare for Malone; Donie Ryan (for extra time); J. Kilmurray for Kellaghan; D. Claffey for Ryan.; J. Hurst for Mulhare.

Referee: P. Russell (Tipperary).

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