Kelly strike proves crucial as Faithful secure semi-final spot
Offaly 1-18 Westmeath 0-18
A well-taken goal by Oisín Kelly in the 12th minute proved to be the decisive score as Offaly edged Westmeath in a scrappy Walsh Cup game in Mullingar yesterday afternoon.
The sides had already met eight days earlier in Banagher, with Offaly's two-point win in that encounter meaning Westmeath required a victory by three points or more to advance from the two-team group.
Two points each from Killian Doyle (one free) and Shane Clavin helped the wind-assisted home team to a 0-5 to 0-3 lead before Kelly availed of loose Westmeath defending to find the net.
Aided by a fine point from blood sub Thomas Geraghty, Kevin Martin's troops led by 1-7 to 0-8 with 22 minutes elapsed but Westmeath scored six unanswered points before the break, including a sublime sideline cut by Niall Mitchell and a monster effort from play by Paul Greville, to lead by 0-14 to 1-7 at half-time.
Offaly introduced the experienced Shane Dooley for the second-half and his four converted frees had the teams level by the 47th minute.
Dooley's reliability from placed balls then had the visitors a goal to the good (1-17 to 0-17) with 10 minutes of normal time remaining.
Michael Ryan's charges spurned a glorious opportunity to equalise in the 62nd minute when Mitchell was fouled as he bore down on the Offaly goal, but Killian Doyle was narrowly wide from the resultant penalty.
A late point exchange between Ciaran Doyle and Kelly saw Offaly into the semi-finals by a five-point aggregate margin over the two legs.
scorers - Offaly: S Dooley 0-7 (7f), O Kelly 1-1, T Geraghty, D King, S Kinsella, D Egan (2fs) 0-2 each, C Gath, C Cleary 0-1 each. Westmeath: K Doyle 0-11 (9f), C Doyle, S Clavin 0-2 each, P Greville, N Mitchell (s/l), J Galvin 0-1 each.
Offaly - C Slevin; D O'Toole, S Gardiner, T Spain; J Quinn, D Doughan, D Shortt; D King, S Kinsella; D Egan, C Mahon, C Egan; C Gath, C Cleary, O Kelly. Subs: T Geraghty for Kinsella (blood, 14), T Geraghty for D Egan (inj, 33), S Dooley for Cleary (h-t), D Currams for Gath (61), J Gorman for Mahon (61), P Camon for Quinn (inj, 68).
Westmeath - S McGovern; S Power, T Doyle, C Shaw; A Craig, P Greville, D McNicholas; C Boyle, D Egerton; J Gilligan, C Doyle, N Mitchell; K Doyle, S Clavin, J Galvin. Subs: D Clinton for Gilligan (inj, 57), A Cox for Boyle (61), P Maxwell for Galvin (61), B Doyle for Power (inj, 68), E Quinn for Craig (60 + 2).
Ref - B Redmond (Wexford).