Kelly masterclass sees Waterford advance

Waterford 2-18 Offaly 0-18

Waterford 2-18 Offaly 0-18

Eoin Kelly put on a scintillating one-man show in Thurles this evening as his 2-13 tally drove Waterford past Offaly and into the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Kelly was a class apart as the Deise ended Offaly's championship hopes, despite the marksmanship of Brian Carroll, Derek Molloy and Brendan Murphy.

A full 1-04 to 0-00 behind in the early stages, Offaly replied wonderfully with eight successive points but the concession of two soft goals had them trailing by 2-06 to 0-11 at half-time.

The Faithfuls led briefly but the brilliance of Kelly and his forward colleagues saw Waterford triumph and set up a quarter-final clash with Wexford.

Meeting Waterford for only the second time in championship history, Offaly made one enforced change to the team that sensationally saw off Limerick in last week's third phase qualifier.

Wing-back Diarmuid Horan failed a late fitness test and was replaced in the starting line-up by Paul Cleary.

Waterford made a blistering start despite the fact that they were playing into a stiff wind. Before Offaly had really got up to speed, Davy Fitzgerald's men had 1-04 on the scoreboard.

The Offaly defence was caught napping in the fourth minute when they allowed John Mullane slide a pass through for Kelly who nicked a shot past goalkeeper Brian Mullins.

Kelly hit a series of points before Offaly began to get a foothold in the game, particularly with Brendan Murphy and Rory Hanniffy dropping deeper in behind the half-back line.

Along with top scorer Brian Carroll, Cleary and Molloy, both Hanniffy and Murphy helped themselves to points during the Faithfuls' glut of scoring.

Carroll's fourth point - his third from a free - had Offaly 0-08 to 1-04 to the good but they were suddenly brought back down to earth by Kelly's second goal in the 21st minute.

Again, the Offaly rearguard should have done better when trying to clear their lines and Kelly was quick to seize his opportunity, giving Mullins little chance with a rasping shot.

Driving his side on, Kelly had amassed a 2-04 personal haul by Michael Haverty half-time whistle and he was denied a hat-trick of goals, just before the break, when Mullins saved his close range free.

Points from Carroll and Shane Dooley saw Offaly into a brief lead, on the resumption, but the Faithfuls were nowhere as competitive as they were seven days ago.

David Franks also chipped in with a superb point from distance, yet Waterford, with Kelly hitting scores from all angles, just had too much in the tank.

Jamie Nagle did enough on his first championship start to suggest that he has a bright future at inter-county level and his replacement, the experienced Paul Flynn, got some decent game-time towards the end.

Late points from Stephen Molumphy and Seamus Prendergast, who soared high to claim a puck-out and then find the posts, kept Fitzgerald's men on track and they now look set to be favourites for their quarter-final encounter with Wexford, the beaten Leinster finalists.

WATERFORD: C Hennessy; E Murphy, K McGrath, D Prendergast; S O'Sullivan, T Browne, J Kennedy; M Walsh (capt), J Nagle; D Shanahan, G Hurney, S Prendergast (0-01); E McGrath (0-01), E Kelly (2-13), J Mullane (0-02).

Subs used: B Phelan for Kennedy, S Molumphy (0-01) for Hurney, P Flynn for Nagle, D Bennett for E McGrath.

OFFALY: B Mullins (capt); D Franks (0-01), D Kenny, M Verney; K Brady, G Oakley, P Cleary (0-01); B Murphy (0-02), R Hanniffy (0-02); S Dooley (0-01), J Brady, D Molloy (0-01); B Carroll (0-09), J Bergin (0-01), D Currams.

Subs used: C Hernon for Verney, C Mahon for Currams, J Rigney for Hernon.

Referee: Michael Haverty (Galway)

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