Meath and Offaly advance in Electric Ireland Leinster MFC
Electric Ireland Leinster MFC Semi-Finals
MEATH 2-10 LAOIS 1-7
OFFALY 2-10 KILDARE 2-7
Meath and Offaly are the last two countries standing in the race for the Electric Ireland Leinster minor football championship, after they secured semi - final wins over Laois and Kildare in very different circumstances this afternoon.
Since they toppled Dublin in the first round of this year's competition, Meath have been the overwhelming favourites for this event and they'll retain that status in the final after yet another impressive display, a 2-10 to 1-7 win over Laois at their home field of Pairc Tailteann.
They wasted no time in getting off the mark with John McDonagh kicking the first score of the game after just 20 seconds, followed up by another within a minute from Ruairi Kinsella.
Laois settled however, even taking the lead through a monster score from Conor Kelly, but by the water break it was all finely poised, 0-5 each.
The next two scores effectively ended the contest. Liam Stafford punished a poor kickout play in the most ruthless fashion imaginable, hammering in a sensational goal, and then a scramble close to goal ended with Alan Bowden getting the decisive touch to make it 2-5 to 0-5.
Each team added a point before half time, but Meath started on top in the third quarter and with Eoghan Frayne and Bowden in good scoring form, they moved nine points clear before Kieran O'Donnell's goal reduced the gap. Surprisingly, that goal right before the second half water break proved to be the last score of the game, as the contest grew very disjointed late on, with Meath happy to defend their lead.
Offaly had no such comfort, even though they too got out to a very strong start, building up a 10 point lead at one stage.
Cathal Ryan and Keith O'Neill got the decisive goals and O'Neill was a constant threat throughout this contest, but Offaly's first half dominance stemmed from the diamond sector, where Ryan (Centre back) and the Tullamore duo at midfield - John Furlong and Harry Plunkett - were superb.
Oisin O'Sullivan threw Kildare a lifeline with a goal before half time and that certainly energised the home side at St. Conleth's Park, who threw the kitchen sink at Offaly early in the second half.
Cormac Egan fisted a great score for the visitors to stem the tide, while a black card for Kildare full back Elliott Byrne with seven minutes left also have the Faithful County some breathing room. They used the space well, and a brave of excellent points from Jamie Guing and Pauric Robbins pushed them 2-10 to 1-7 ahead.
There was no prospect of a quiet finish here however as Oisin O'Sullivan fired in a second goal at the end of normal time and with five minutes to be added, Offaly still had work to do to confirm their first Leinster final appearance at this grade for a decade.
A couple of big turnover wins, including another vital stall from Cathal Ryan, kept their goal protected however and they held on for a sensational local derby win.