Walsh seals victory for Louth
Louth 2-12 Offaly 1-11
Offaly were left to reflect on what might have been at O'Connor Park last night.
Louth recorded a deserved win but Offaly were the unlucky team in this championship as they went close to beating Dublin and Meath - defeats that seemed to knock the heart out of them.
Offaly needed to win this one, Meath to beat Wicklow and Westmeath to shock Dublin to claim a semi-final place and that threesome of results was never likely to happen. It meant that this game was only of academic interest - a place in the shield semi-finals was on offer for the winners but the dubious honour of being the fifth best team in the province was never going to capture the imagination. It was a tame affair but the closeness of the game held fans' attention.
A ninth-minute Cathal Flynn goal gave Offaly a 1-0 to 0-1 lead but Louth were better early on. Conal McCaul got three first-half points and a late goal from Craig Lennon left them 1-5 to 1-4 down at half-time.
In the second half, it was nip and tuck the whole way until an injury-time goal from Ryan Walsh sealed it for the visitors.
Scorers - Louth: C Fleming 0-6 (4f), C Lennon 1-1, R Walsh 1-0, C McCaul 0-3, C Shevlin G Bell, 0-1 each. Offaly: C Flynn 1-1, J Bryant 0-3, M Cunningham and A Kellaghan (1f) 0-2 each; E Cullen, D Lowry and M Tynan 0-1 each.
Offaly - S O'Toole; A Brazil, K Dolan, B Nolan; E Cullen, R Egan, H Balsiger; C Donoghue, M Tynan; P Bennett, S Courtney, M Cunningham; J Bryant, A Kellaghan, C Flynn. Subs: J Nolan for Bennett (40), D Lowry for Courtney (43), C Delaney for Cunningham (50), L Egan for Donoghue (53).
Louth - J McGillick; F Lynch, P McEvoy, T Jackson; R Hanlon, C Shevlin, G Bell; R Walsh, J Mee; B Butterly, D Nally, C Fleming; S Healy, C McCaul, C Lennon. Sub: C Quigley for Mee (53).
Ref - D Sheppard (Dublin)