Kildare 0-19 Offaly 1-12
Kildare booked their place in the last four of the Leinster championship but they will need to be much better if they are to advance further in the province.
Starting with five championship debutants - and bringing on a sixth - Kieran McGeeney will probably be glad to have gotten Offaly out of the way but a better team would have made them pay for the space they offered up defensively on occasion.
Of the youngsters, Daniel Flynn was outstanding at midfield, while Paul Cribbin and Niall Kelly kicked four points from play each, even though Kelly struggled at times to get himself into the game.
Johnny Doyle, his successor as captain, Eamonn Callaghan and Daryl Flynn were key operators too.
Niall McNamee was magnificent for Offaly, kicking four points from play including the score of the game from tight on the right, that would have done Stephen O’Neill proud.
They kept going right to the end and though Kildare had made things comfortable for themselves with six successive points to put themselves eight clear, Emmet McDonnell’s crew kept fighting and had it back to a goal when David Hanlon slotted a 70th minute penalty.
Kildare won the next kickout though and Seanie Johnston pointed with the game’s last act.
It should be noted that the game was played in almost funereal silence which did nothing for the atmosphere and probably fuelled the impression that the game was lacking in intensity.
The thought occurred more than once that this was a game that should have been played in Portlaoise.
McNamee got Offaly off to the perfect start but points for Cribbin - Alan Mulhall tipped his goal bound shot over - Doyle (free), Eoghan O’Flaherty and Doyle (free) gave Kildare the advantage.
Casey and McNamee brought the sides level and when Doyle chipped over another free, Graham Guilfoyle restore parity with a splendid effort from play.
Mulhall was called into action once more when acrobatically tipping over O’Flaherty’s flick on and two brilliant points by Doyle with either foot, allied by a brace from Kelly helped Kildare establish a 0-10 to 0-7 interval advantage.
Cribbin, who was alternating between half-back and half-forward up the left flank with Bolton, opened the scoring in the second half.
Kelly popped over his third after good work by Tomás O’Connor to stretch the margin to five but Offaly had their best period thereafter, inspired by McNamee.
The Rhode man slotted two points, including that near miraculous effort from under the Hogan Stand. With Mulhall’s successful 45 sandwiched in between, the gap was down to two and Offaly’s dander was up.
Kildare responded well though with six points to kill the game. A Doyle free was followed by a neat finish from Kelly and a Cribbin brace, leaving the U21 stars finished with four points apiece from play.
Further scores from O’Flaherty and Doyle (free) ensured Kildare’s progress but Offaly continued to chip away, and they had the gap down to six when Mark Donnellan was correctly penalised for a foot block on Hanlon.
The Edenderry forward sent Donnellan the wrong way but Kildare had done enough.
KILDARE: J Doyle 0-6(4fs); N Kelly, E O’Flaherty 0-4 each; P Cribbin 0-3; S Johnston 0-1
OFFALY: N McNamee, K Casey (3fs) 0-4 each; D Hanlon 1-0(pen); G Guilfoyle, A McNamee, A Mulhall (45), N Darby 0-1 each
KILDARE: M Donnellan; O Lyons, M Foley, H McGrillen; P Kelly, E Callaghan, E Bolton; Daryl Flynn, Daniel Flynn; E O'Flaherty, N Kelly, P Cribbin; P Brophy, T O’Connor, J Doyle. Subs: F Dowling for Brophy (47); S Johnston for O’Connor (55); M O’Flaherty for E O’Flaherty (61); D Hylan for Bolton (64); R Kelly for Daryl Flynn (64)
OFFALY: A Mulhall; P McConway, S Sullivan, D Brady; D Hanlon, B Darby, M Brazil; A McNamee, J Brickland; G Guilfoyle, B Connor, E Carroll; A Sullivan, N McNamee, K Casey. Subs: P Cunningham for Carroll (27); N Darby for Brazil (47); J Moloney for Connor (52); R Allen for Brick land (55)
REFEREE: R Hickey (Clare)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Daniel Flynn (Kildare)