Wexford 1-14 Offaly 2-15
Offaly are into the Leinster SFC final for the first time since 1997 after seeing off a gutsy Wexford side in a 2-15 to 1-14 victory at Croke Park today.
Rhode clubman Niall McNamee scored 1-07 as Kevin Kilmurray’s men set up a July 16 decider against Dublin.
Matty Forde matched McNamee’s tally, but the former All-Star could be in hot water after an apparent stamp on Shane Sullivan.
McNamee (eight minutes) and Thomas Deehan (28) rocketed shots past John Cooper to help the Faithfuls lead 2-06 to 0-07 at the break.
A Forde penalty tied up the game but Offaly kicked on again despite having Scott Brady harshly sent-off.
A long through ball from the boot of Offaly skipper Karol Slattery split the Wexford defence in the eighth-minute and McNamee coolly broke onto it and ripped a shot to Cooper's net to give his side a 1-01 to 0-01 advantage.
However, the Model men hit four points on the bounce - two from midfielders Diarmuid Kinsella and Rory Stafford - to go in front. Forde's 19th-minute free had them ahead for the first time.
Then it was Offaly's turn to dominate as they struck 1-02 without reply and their forward lines really shone with Deehan and McNamee proving a handful.
Two McNamee points had the Faithfuls back in front and then Deehan, off his weaker left foot, slammed home his goal after good work from Pascal Kellaghan and another teasing through ball, this time from Ciaran McManus.
It took a great block from Philip Wallace to prevent Offaly from scoring a third goal, four minutes before the break. He got back well to deny McNamee with Cooper beaten all ends up. Points from Deehan and McNamee sandwiched a Forde free as Offaly ended the half five points clear.
Wexford pared the gap down to three early into the second half as points from PJ Banville, Forde and Kinsella eclipsed a McManus free.
Then came Forde's penalty as Offaly centre back Brady was pinged for hauling down Paddy Colfer. Offaly were understandably upset as television replays showed that it should have been a free-out as Brady was fouled when the original ball was played in.
Forde's strike, which Padraig Kelly got a hand to, levelled matters at 2-07 to 1-10. Yet with a quarter of an hour remaining, it was Offaly back on top at 2-12 to 1-11. Deehan and McNamee shared out five points as Kilmurray's side mounted a charge.
Forde's cynical stamp on Sullivan then went unpunished, although a ban for the International Rules star seems certain. Forde cut the deficit to a single point as he tagged on three successive points.
Offaly once again showed their resilience as despite having Brady dismissed - his second offence was a challenge that left Wexford substitute Eric Bradley winded - points followed from Nigel Grennan, McNamee and substitute Trevor Phelan to book the Faithful county's first final clash with Dublin since 1983.
J Cooper; C Morris, P Wallace, N Murphy; R Barry (0-01), D Murphy, P Curtis; R Stafford (0-01), D Kinsella (0-02); C Deely (capt), P Colfer (0-01), D Fogarty (0-01); L Murphy, PJ Banville (0-01), M Forde (1-07).
J Hudson, E Bradley, J Hegarty
P Kelly; G Rafferty, S Sullivan, N Grennan (0-01); P McConway, S Brady, K Slattery (capt); A McNamee, C McManus (0-01); D Hunt, N Coughlan, J Reynolds (0-01); T Deehan (1-04), P Kellaghan, N McNamee (1-07).
M Daly, T Phelan (0-01), C Daly, J Coughlan
Jimmy White (Donegal)