Kilkenny just about saw off a stubborn Offaly display to set up a Division 1 semi-final against Wexford or Galway, writes
Points by TJ Reid, a free, and Walter Walsh in additional time sealed the win in Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park after the home side had levelled matters in the penultimate minute of normal time through Shane Dooley.
Offaly had also drawn level in the 66th minute thanks to Joe Bergin before the combination of Reid and Walsh struck again. But then Dooley, with a gem of a point from close to the sideline and his free, set up the dramatic finale.
With a gusting wind at their backs, Offaly knew they had to be ahead going into the break and they did, 1-10 to 0-10, although they had a let-off in the closing stages as Richie Reid had a goal disallowed for a square ball infringement.
Offaly might have argued they didn’t get the rub of the green from referee Paud O’Dwyer in the opening quarter although Kilkenny were the better side, going 0-7 to 0-4 after 17 minutes. Eoghan Cahill had to be on his toes to deny Ger Aylward an early goal and his save deflected over the bar. Walter Walsh also fizzed a shot just over the bar a minute later.
Riding on the breeze, Offaly sent over a couple of beautiful points from distance and went ahead with one of them, Shane Kinsella guiding over a missile from midfield in the 27th minute.
The teams swapped the lead a couple of times again before Conor Mahon managed to push the ball over the goal-line at the second attempt in the 33rd minute after Cillian Kiely sent the ball towards him at the edge of the square.
Two Colin Egan points kept Offaly on top before the interval, the second of them coming after Reid’s score was ruled out.
Scorers for Offaly: S. Dooley (0-8, 5 frees), C. Mahon (1-2); S. Kinsella, C. Egan, J. Bergin (0-2 each); C. Kiely, D. Currams, D. King (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilkenny: T.J. Reid (0-12, 9 frees); W. Walsh (0-4); L. Blanchfield (0-3); J. Maher, J. Donnelly (0-2 each); G. Aylward (0-1).
OFFALY: E. Cahill; T. Spain, S. Gardiner, B. Connelly; D. O’Toole, D. Shortt, P. Camon; S. Kinsella, D. King (c); C. Mahon, C. Kiely, C. Egan; S. Dooley, J. Bergin, D. Currams.
Subs for Offaly: P. Rigney for S. Gardiner (inj 47); O. Kelly for C. Kiely, D. Egan for S. Kinsella (both 58); T. Geraghty for C. Egan (67); S. Ryan for P. Rigney (blood, 70+3).
KILKENNY: D. Brennan; J. Holden, P. Walsh, P. Deegan; C. Delaney, C. Buckley (c), C. Browne; R. Leahy, O. Walsh; L. Blanchfield, T.J. Reid, J. Maher; G. Aylward, W. Walsh, R. Reid.
Subs for Kilkenny: L. Scanlon for G. Aylward, J. Donnelly for O. Walsh (both 41); L. Ryan for R. Leahy (61); E. Morrissey for C. Browne (64); A. Murphy for R. Reid (65).
Referee: P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).