Dublin 2-21 Offaly 1-20, Croke Park
Dublin came through a stern test of their Championship credentials as they beat a Shane Dooley-inspired Offaly side at Croke Park.
Peadar Carton’s late goal sealed a hard-fought win for Anthony Daly’s men who lacked the fluency shown in their Allianz Hurling League final win over Kilkenny.
Some 14,302 spectators watched the Dubs take an early 1-01 to 0-00 lead. Alan McCrabbe’s effort, which was shown as a wide on television replays, was signalled as a point.
Then, in the third minute, Paul Ryan slung a penalty past Derek Morkan on the goal-line after Offaly goalkeeper James Dempsey had fouled Ryan O’Dwyer.
Offaly replied with points from captain Shane Dooley and Championship newcomer Colin Egan, and Dooley went on to spearhead the Faithfuls’ challenge.
By half-time, Dooley, son of manager Joe, had scored 1-07 as the underdogs, who were missing four of their first choice defenders, showed their mettle.
Offaly also lost Brian Carroll to a recurrence of his ankle injury and Dublin looked like they might break away on the scoreboard when O’Dwyer, Ryan (0-02), McCrabbe, Conal Keaney and Daire Plunkett struck points.
Dooley kept Offaly in touch at 1-07 to 0-04 but Derek Molloy had a close-in free saved on the line by Liam Rushe and Dooley took his side’s wides tally to five.
The intensity increased coming up to the break, with Dooley landing three of the next four points – two of them from placed balls. Conor McCormack, who swept over a terrific score from near the right sideline, and Ryan kept the Dubs’ advantage at five points.
But Offaly made a one-point game at the interval courtesy of a quick 1-01 from scoring star Dooley. The corner forward collected a long delivery in, turned inside past Peter Kelly and flashed a powerful shot into the net, giving net minder Gary Maguire little chance.
Molloy was fouled soon after and Dooley converted the free to make it 1-09 and 1-08 and give the Faithfuls every chance of upsetting the league champions.
Dooley got Offaly back on terms just after the restart, but Dublin, with Rushe and Keaney both having spells at centre-back, managed to get something breathing space.
While Dooley kept chipping away, points from O’Dwyer, free-taker Ryan (0-03), McCrabbe, substitute Simon Lambert and McCormack edged the Metropolitans into a 1-16 to 1-10 lead.
It was this crucial third quarter push that eventually got Daly’s charges over the finish line. Wing back Shane Durkin added another point to put seven points between the sides.
Yet, injury-hit Offaly showed no signs of flagging. Joe Bergin and Dooley added to their side’s total, replying to an O’Callaghan effort, before Offaly midfielder Molloy was dismissed for his second bookable offence.
Ryan and Bergin exchanged scores, with the seven-point buffer looking like a winning lead. However, 14-man Offaly lifted their game again as Conor Mahon and Dooley (free) rattled off points, and Dylan Hayden and Bergin cancelled out another score from Ryan.
Full-forward Bergin found enough space to clip over a 67th minute point, reducing the margin to just three and setting up a nervy finish for Dublin.
Dooley knocked over a free at the Hill 16 end, but substitute Carton got away from a couple of Offaly defenders to rifle a right-sided shot to the net for the Dubs’ all-important second goal.
Gallant Offaly engineered a final scoring chance in injury-time – Dooley fired a close range free just over the crossbar – and the four-point gap was enough to send Dublin through to a semi-final against either Galway or Westmeath.
DUBLIN: Gary Maguire; Peter Kelly, Niall Corcoran, Oisín Gough; John McCaffrey, Liam Rushe, Shane Durkan (0-01); Maurice O'Brien, Alan McCrabbe (0-03); Ryan O'Dwyer (0-02), Conor McCormack (0-02), Conal Keaney (0-01); Paul Ryan (1-08, 1-00pen, 0-08f), David O'Callaghan (0-02), Daire Plunkett (0-01).
Subs used: Simon Lambert (0-01) for O'Brien, David Treacy for O'Callaghan (blood sub), David Treacy for Plunkett, Declan O'Dwyer for McCormack, Peadar Carton (1-00) for McCrabbe, David Curtin for Rushe.
OFFALY: James Dempsey; Stephen Egan, David Kenny, Michael Verney; Dylan Hayden (0-01), Eanna Murphy, Derek Morkan; Brian Carroll, Daniel Currams (0-01); Conor Mahon (0-01), Ger Healion, Colin Egan (0-01); Derek Molloy, Joe Bergin (0-03), Shane Dooley (1-13, 0-11f).
Subs used: Cathal Parlon for Carroll, James Mulrooney for Egan.
Referee: John Sexton (Cork)