THERE was some respite for Louth football as the Wee County took a step closer to a first provincial U-21 title since 1981 by beating Offaly at Pairc Tailteann.
Playing a refreshing brand of football, Colin Kelly's charges were the dominant force throughout the opening half and led 0-6 to 0-1 at the break.
However, they had to withstand a rousing second-half revival from the midlanders before securing victory.
Peter Cunningham had a major input to Offaly's comeback in the second period and notched five points. Cunningham, though, missed a gilt-edged chance to draw the sides level from a free in the 59th minute and Brian Berrill secured the Louth win with the insurance point in added-time.
The winners had Ruairi Moore sent off for a second yellow card near the finish.
SCORERS -- Louth: W Woods, B Rogan (1f) 0-2 each, S O'Hanlon, R Moore (f), E O'Connor, P Kirwan, B Hamilton, B Berrill 0-1 each. Offaly: P Cunningham 0-5 (3f), A Sullivan, D Hogan, A McDonagh 0-1 each.
LOUTH -- J Flanagan; C Murray, D Campbell, T Hand; M McKeown, P Reilly, A Williams; E O'Connor, S O'Hanlon; R Moore, C Bellew, P Kirwin; B Rogan, W Woods, B Hamilton. Subs: E Duffy for McKeown (37), B Berrill for Hamilton (50), E O'Neill for Kirwan (54).
OFFALY -- G Shiels; C Donoghue, E Rigney, J Kavanagh; S Hannon, J Ledwith, J McPadden; M Brazil, D Kelly; D Hogan, A Sullivan, G Guilfoyle; T Spain, B Allen, S Cullen. Subs: M Young for Cullen (24), P Cunningham for Spain (25), N Bracken for Kavanagh (33), D Hanlon for Donoghue (33), A McDonagh for Hannon (52).
REF -- F Barry (Kildare).