Kildare 0-19 Offaly 0-6
Kildare stuttered a bit early on as they finally got their championship campaign underway.
However, the gulf in class between them and Offaly was still apparent, as they booked their place in the Leinster SFC semi-final in comfortable fashion at O’Moore Park.
Ollie Lyons, Johnny Doyle, Tomás O’Connor and Mick Foley were all outstanding for Kieran McGeeney’s side who can expect a much tougher challenge from Meath on July 1.
Offaly brought on Niall McNamee in the dying seconds of the first half but the gifted Rhode man never got the type of supply that might have enabled him to help his team turn around a 0-8 to 0-3 interval deficit.
The midlanders started well and had three points on the board by the tenth minute. All of them were from play, with Anton Sullivan, Niall Smith and Ken Casey finding the target.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t add to that for the remainder of the half as Kildare exerted control around midfield thanks to the efforts of Rob Kelly and championship debutant, Eoin Doyle.
The Lilywhites were nowhere near their best as they looked tentative early on, shooting some dreadful wides and dropping the ball into the hands of grateful Offaly goalie, Alan Mulhall too often.
Tomás O’Connor was always a threat though, and one spectacular leap for possession is sure to make the season’s highlights reel.
O’Connor had a hand in at least three first-half points and repeated the trick in the second. Had his team-mates’ finishing been better, his tally of assists would have approached 10.
Mikey Conway was amongst the chief culprits when it came to shoddy shooting, but his place-kicking has improved beyond measure this year and he continued that trend with a 100% record that included three first-half frees.
With the tireless Johnny Doyle adding a brace of points, Kildare were full value for that three-point advantage.
Kildare were unlucky not to have a goal as Emmet Bolton thundered a shot off the crossbar that was hit with such power, the ball almost went out over the sideline.
Offaly kept trying hard in the second half but tired visibly. Mulhall made two splendid saves from Conway and Pádraig O’Neill, while referee, Pádraig O’Sullivan somehow declined to award a penalty after Eoghan O’Flaherty had clearly seemed to be pulled down when one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
But as more and more space presented itself, Kildare continued popping over the points, with centre-back Ollie Lyons using his speed to particular effect to bound through the middle and help himself to three.
The impressive Kelly, league final hero Pádraig Fogarty, Alan Smith and Doyle also kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Alan McNamee ended a 29-minute scoring drought for Offaly when pointing in the 39th minute but only Casey could add to their tally, with a point from play, followed by a free.
Kildare: M Conway 0-5(4fs, 1 45); J Doyle 0-4; O Lyons 0-3; E O’Flaherty 0-2; P O’Neill, A Smith, R Kelly, P Fogarty, J Kavanagh 0-1 each
Offaly: K Casey 0-3(1f); A McNamee, N Smith, A Sullivan 0-1 each
Kildare: S Connolly; P Kelly, M Foley, H McGrillen; M O’Flaherty, O Lyons, E Bolton; R Kelly, P O’Neill; J Doyle, E Doyle; E O’Flaherty, M Conway; T O’Connor, J Kavanagh. Subs: A Smith for E Doyle (42); D Flynn for Kelly inj (55); P Fogarty for Kavanagh (57); D Earley for J Doyle (59); T O’Neill for M O’Flaherty (61)
Offaly: A Mulhall; J Moloney, S Sullivan, S Pender; B Darby, M Brazil, E Rigney; A McNamee, R Brady; D Kelly, A Sullivan, R Dalton; N Smith, G Guilfoyle, K Casey. Subs: N McNaMee for Kelly (35); P Cunningham for Guilfoyle (46); D Hanlon for Moloney (57); N Dunne for Casey (64); L Hiney for Rigney (69)
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry)