Kildare 3-12 Offaly 0-9
Kildare easily avenged last year’s Leinster Under-21 championship defeat to Offaly last night when goals from Mark Sherry, Declan Flaherty and Neil Flynn helped them to a 12-point victory over their neighbours at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise and set up a semi-final clash with Meath in a fortnight’s time.
County senior star Niall Kelly was in stunning form for the Lilywhites with five excellent points, including four while his side played with the aid of the wind in the first half.
Kelly’s scores and a hotly-disputed goal that was credited to Mark Sherry helped Kildare into a 1-8 to 0-4 half-time lead, but it looked as if they’d need every bit of that advantage when Offaly burst out of the blocks with four points in the first five minutes of the second half.
The game turned back in Kildare’s favour immediately afterwards however, with three critical moments all going the way of the victors in the space of just five minutes.
Colin Heeney produced a stunning save to deny Declan Byrne what could have been an equalising goal, Declan Flaherty then pushed Kildare six in front when he tapped in a mishit shot from Sherry before Offaly’s misery was compounded when wing forward Seán Moriarty was shown a straight red card.
Kildare easily kept Offaly at bay until the close, though they added just two points of their own in nearly 20 minutes before Neil Flynn added their third major on the cusp of full-time.
Scorers for Kildare: N Kelly 0-5 (0-1f), D Flaherty & N Flynn (0-1f) 1-1 each, M Sherry 1-0, R Moore 0-2, C McMonagle, C Fenner & W Fitzpatrick 0-1 each
Scorers for Offaly: J Maher 0-4 (0-2f), L Kelly 0-2f, E Carroll, P Cunningham & S Moriarty 0-1 each
KILDARE: C Heeney; P Mescal, D Maguire, B Byrne; R Houlihan, P Connell, D Hyland; D Fitzpatrick, R Moore; C Fenner, M Sherry, N Kelly; N Flynn, D Flaherty, C McMonagle.
Subs: C Healy for Flaherty (45), T Gibbons for McMonagle (49), S O’Hagan for Maguire (51), D Duke for Connell (55), W Fitzpatrick for Fenner (60).
OFFALY: J Colgan; J Hendy, J Lalor, A Whelan; C McNamee, O Cusack, D Corbett; E Carroll, D Byrne; J Evans, P Cunningham, S Moriarty; R McNamee, J Maher, L Kelly.
Subs: J Kinahan for C McNamee (27 – B/C), S Tierney for R McNamee (47), J Kavanagh for Byrne (47), A Shelley for Kelly (49).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Longford)
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