Offaly’s second half show enough to book Allianz NHL Division 2A final clash with Kildare

Offaly 0-23 Kerry 0-19

Offaly and Kerry players tussle during the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A semi-final at Glenisk O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

In a game of two halves in Tullamore, Offaly made their second half dominance count far more than Kerry could manage for the opening 35 minutes, as a dreadful day of shooting from the Kingdom ultimately cost them their place in next week’s Division 2A hurling league final against Kildare.

For the first half at least, the wind at Glenisk O’Connor Park was a factor. A sharp breeze blew down the ground in Tullamore, though it was diminished greatly following a heavy shower of rain just before half-time.

However Kerry’s real asset in the first half was their control of the ball and their slick movement of the sliotar through the middle third of the field, with players like Eoin Ross, Daniel Collins and in particular, Jordan Conway hugely influential.

Conway and Collins shot a brace of points each while Shane Conway and Pádraig Boyle’s frees helped Kerry to an 0-13 to 0-10 half-time lead, but it could and should have been so much more.

Twelve of Kerry’s 18 wides came in this opening half, almost all from excellent scoring positions where they were well entitled to shoot for the posts.

After the break, it was Offaly who hurled with far more control and thought, as they wiped the aimless long deliveries out of their playbook and instead took control defensively, and giving much better deliveries into the forward line.

Scores from Eoghan Cahill and David Nally helped draw them level, and five points in a row from the 52nd minute through to the hour mark, with county Under-20 star Charlie Mitchell putting in a man of the match performance in the half-forward line to help create and finish several of those scores, gave them a stranglehold on the tie that they would never relinquish.

Scorers – Offaly: E Cahill 0-13 (0-11f, 0-1 65), D Nally 0-3 (0-1 sideline), C Mitchell 0-2, D Maher 0-1, A Cleary 0-1, J Sampson 0-1, P Clancy 0-1, L Langton 0-1. Kerry: P Boyle 0-8 (0-7f), S Conway 0-4f, J Conway 0-2, D Collins 0-2, E Ross 0-1, K O’Connor 0-1, B Barrett 0-1.

Offaly: S Corcoran 7; B Conneely 8, C Burke 8, C Hardiman 5; D Maher 8, J Sampson 6, K Sampson 6; P Delaney 7, J Clancy 8; E Cahill 8, C Mitchell 9, A Cleary 7; D Nally 7, Shane Dooley 5, Cillian Kiely 5. Subs: D King 7 for Hardiman (half-time), P Clancy 8 for Dooley (48), J Keenaghan for Delaney (64), L Langton for J Clancy (68).

Kerry: JB O'Halloran 7; J Diggins 6, E Murphy 7, S Weir 6; E Ross 7, F Mackessy 8, K O'Connor 7; D Griffin 6, D Collins 8; S Conway 6, J Conway 9, M Boyle 6; D Goggin 5, M Leane 5, P Boyle 8. Subs: E Leen 6 for M Boyle (23), G Dooley 6 for Goggin (half-time), K Carmody 7 for Weir (46), B Barrett for Griffin (61), C Trant for Ross (70).

Referee: T Gleeson (Dublin).