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Dooley's Offaly tame Cats to set up semi clash with Tribesmen

KILKENNY got their 2010 off to a losing start in Tullamore yesterday, relinquishing their Walsh Cup crown in the process in a 1-16 to 1-13 defeat to OFFALY.

The five-in-a-row chasing Cats, fielding just two of last September's All-Ireland final team in Richie Hogan and John Tennyson, started well nonetheless and opened up a 0-6 to 0-1 lead by the 18th minute.

However, a Daniel Currams free was bundled over the line by Ger Healion in first-half injury-time and Joe Dooley's men went into the half-time break just one point adrift (1-6 to 0-10).

Martin Boran's goal right after the resumption gave Kilkenny back the advantage but they failed to register a score in the final 17 minutes, while conceding 0-5 in the same period of time, with Cathal Parlon and Joe Bergin sealing a heartening first win of the season for Offaly with late points.

They go on to face GALWAY now in next Sunday's semi-final after John McIntyre's men eventually beat LAOIS in extra-time in O'Moore Park yesterday, 4-24 to 2-17.

The home team were actually 1-11 to 0-7 ahead at the break, with John Rowney netting their goal but a stirring second-half display from Ger Farragher earned extra-time for John McIntyre's men.

From there, Galway seized firm control of the fixture, with Richie Cummins (two) and Joe Gantley scoring goals for the Tribesmen in a six-minute spell in the first half of added time while Willie Hyland's second-half strike took the edge off the scoreline.

In Gorey, WEXFORD set up a home semi-final against Dublin after beating UCD by 2-16 to 1-13.

Jim Berry and Stephen Banville scored early goals for the Slaneysiders, with Diarmuid Lyng scoring 0-9 (7f, 1 '65') for Colm Bonnar's men. Liam Rushe, making his first competitive appearance of the year, scored 0-3 (2f) for UCD while fellow Dub Joey Boland bagged a brace of points from midfield.

Olaf's can finally breath a sigh of relief

BEFORE Christmas, Naomh Olaf thought they had secured AFL Division 2 safety, but there was still a bit of housework to be done, writes Niall Scully.

Yesterday it was all Hoovers blazing at Páirc Uí Bhriain as they finally secured their ticket, beating Skerries Harps, 1-8 to 0-5.

On a raw morning, Harps had their moments, but Olaf's dominated in the second half, kicking some elegant points in the process.

Harps were already safe. They were without notables like Bryan Cullen, Colin Daly and Donnacha Reilly, while Graham Cullen retired injured early on.

Centre half-back, Liam Reddin, impressed for Skerries, while Ronan O'Sullivan proved his calibre in front of the posts.

Harps were certainly well in it in the opening period. They were playing bright, crisp football. Eoin Christian and Gary Wilkins nudged the hosts ahead at the Beacon end, but O'Sullivan and Vincent Hughes tied it up - 0-2 each.

Then came the crucial goal five minutes before the break. Eoin Kinsella curled in a free from the left that landed right under the mantle-piece.

The umpires judged the ball was over the line. Skerries were looking for the TMO.

Brian Begley and Bernard Gaughran quickly added points, and it was 1-4 to 0-2 to Olaf's at the turn. That's when Olaf's really began to turn it on. Christian clipped one over and Cormac Lucey struck a couple of gems from wide on the left.

Harps kept at it. The home defence kept it tight and simple. O'Sullivan lofted over one of the best points of the day.

Olaf's maintained their attacking tempo, and when the cultured Kinsella's converted a free that left six points between them with seven minutes left, the large home following could start thinking of their Sunday Lunch......and senior football again next term.

DUBLIN - AFL 2: Naomh Olaf 1-8; Skerries Harps 0-5. St Mark's 0-16; St Patrick's 0-13. AHL 2: Na Fianna off Raheny. U21 HC A semi-final: Cuala 2-9 Ballyboden St Enda's 1-11. U21 HC A quarter-final: Na Fianna 1-9 Lucan Sarsfields 1-7.