Sunday 20 August 2017

Dubs must wait for semi-final opponents after Westmeath rescue draw against Offaly

Offaly 0-10 Westmeath 0-10

11 June 2017; Johnny Moloney of Offaly in action against David Lynch of Westmeath during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Offaly and Westmeath at Bord Na Móna O'Connor Park, Tullamore, in Co. Offaly. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
11 June 2017; Johnny Moloney of Offaly in action against David Lynch of Westmeath during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Offaly and Westmeath at Bord Na Móna O'Connor Park, Tullamore, in Co. Offaly. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Michael Verney in Bord na Móna O'Connor Park

Dublin will have to wait until next Saturday to learn their Leinster semi-final opponents after a late free from John Heslin earned a draw for Westmeath against Offaly in a tense Midland derby today at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park.

The Faithful finished with 13 men after the dismissals of Michael Brazil and Ruairí Allen but both players will be available for next Saturday's replay (3.0 in TEG Cusack Park).

Offaly were hit with an early blow as experienced defender Brian Darby hobbled off but against a stiff breeze, the Faithful played the textbook first half as they regularly held possession for prolonged periods and rarely let Westmeath break their defensive cover.

Kieran Martin did spurn a goal chance on three minutes before Nigel Dunne opened the scoring with a free, which was quickly cancelled out by a long-range effort from Lake captain Ger Egan.

It was tit for tat in the opening half with Dunne and Shane Dempsey trading scores before Westmeath kicked on somewhat through Egan, who was dominant at midfield, and a fine effort from Noel Mulligan.

Brazil was playing like a man inspired for Offaly, however, and the industrious Tullamore clubman fired two points in as many minutes to level affairs.

The home side kicked on with another brace through Dunne and Graham Guilfoyle but despite not making sufficient use of the wind advantage, Westmeath drew level with two points from John Heslin (one free) closing out the half, 0-6 apiece.

It was seven minutes into the new half before Niall Darby sent over a rare point off his right boot but Egan, who was keeping the Westmeath fires stoked almost singlehandedly, responded with a super point.

Niall McNamee hit his first of the day soon after but Heslin pointed a beautiful free off his left before Johnny Moloney (a handpassed effort) and Egan traded points midway through the half.

Scores were hard to come by in a tense final quarter but Guilfoyle fired the faithful ahead with a beauty on 62 minutes but that that would be their last score as they retreated into a shell and often had no players inside the opposition '65.

Heslin showed all his character to nail a nerveless free four minutes into injury time and draw the sides level and despite a speculative effort from Paul Sharry, the sides remained level until the end.

SCORERS – Westmeath: J Heslin 0-4 (3f), G Egan 0-3, N Mulligan, S Dempsey 0-1 each.

Offaly: N Dunne 0-3 (1f), M Brazil 0-2, G Guilfoyle 0-2, N Darby 0-1, J Moloney 0-1,

WESTMEATH – D Quinn; J Gonoud, K Maguire, K Daly; J Dolan, P Holloway, M McCallon; A Stone, G Egan; K Reilly, P Sharry, N Mulligan; J Heslin, K Martin, S Dempsey. Subs: C Boyle for Dempsey (half-time), J Connellan for Stone (48), J Egan for Reilly (52), T McDaniel for Martin (58), D Glennon for Mulligan (64)

OFFALY – A Mulhall; B Darby, E Rigney, S Pender; N Darby, P Cunningham, C Donoghue; E Carroll, D Hanlon; M Brazil, G Guilfoyle, N Dunne; R Allen, J Moloney, N McNamee. Subs: J Lalor for B Darby (2 inj), J O'Connor for Brazil (blood 22), Brazil for O'Connor (23), J O'Connor for Carroll (54), A Sullivan for Hanlon (60), B Allen for Sullivan (BC 63), R McNamee for Dunne (66)

REF – P O'Sullivan (Kerry)

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