Cleary's brace prevents Lilies' shock
Offaly 2-22 Kildare 2-20
Despite eventually overturning a four-point lead after 64 minutes, Offaly's two-point victory yesterday wasn't enough to secure a semi-final spot.
Expecting to easily overcome this Kildare side, despite playing in Newbridge, Offaly only led by a single point at half-time (1-12 to 2-8) to a team that included Kilkenny permit player John Mulhall.
Sean Cleary scored Offaly's opening goal in the ninth minute, before adding two further points. Shane Dooley then added on a few frees, but Kildare's Mark Delaney added three frees before finishing the half with two goals, leaving the Offaly men's progression in serious peril.
In the second-half the game was level on three occasions by the 46th minute, but it was Offaly who were chasing as the Kildare side dictated the pace in the third quarter.
With Shane Dooley and Kildare's David Reidy trading frees in a shoot-out, Kildare managed to carve out a four-point lead by the 57th minute.
With a historic loss on the cards Offaly needed a second Cleary goal in the 64th minute and the continuing frees of Dooley to ensure a two-point margin.
It was enough for victory, but not enough for progression to the semi-final.
Scorers - Offaly: S Dooley 0-10, (8f, 1 '65), S Cleary 2-2, O Kelly, S Ryan, P Murphy, E Nolan 0-2 each, E Cahill, D Maloney 0-1 each. Kildare: M Delaney 2-4 (3f), D Reidy 0-9 (9f), J Mulhall 0-3, B Byrne, J Sheridan 0-2 each.
Offaly: J Dempsey; D Maloney, C Doughan, M Cleary; A Treacy, D Short, S Gardiner; D King, B Conneely; S Ryan, S Dooley, P Murphy; S Cleary, O Kelly, E Cahill. Subs: E Nolan for King (7); L Langton for Cahill (34); Cahill for Langton (h-t); E Grogan for Cahill (47); P Rigney for Conneely (53); C Molloy for Nolan (60); C Kiely for Ryan (65)
Kildare: P Dermody; C Forde, N O'Muineacháin, M Reidy; S Gainey, M Moloney, R Bergin; J Mulhall, P Divilly; J Sheridan, P Moran, D Reidy; C Bonus, M Delaney, B Byrne. Subs: G Johnson for Sheridan (64); P Ryan for Bonus (65).
Ref: J Heffernan (Wexford)