Liam Dunne of Dublin in action against Dara Maher, left, and Padraic Watkins of Offaly during the Leinster GAA Hurling U20 Championship semi-final match between Dublin and Offaly at Parnell Park in Dublin.
Liam Dunne of Dublin in action against Dara Maher, left, and Padraic Watkins of Offaly during the Leinster GAA Hurling U20 Championship semi-final match between Dublin and Offaly at Parnell Park in Dublin. 

Leinster U20 HC: Dublin dig deep to beat Offaly

Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U-20 Hurling Championship semi-final


By Paul Keane at Parnell Park

Dublin were forced to dig deep at Parnell Park to repel a thrilling Offaly revival and secure their return to the Leinster U-20 hurling final.

The hosts, beaten 10 days ago in the delayed 2020 All-Ireland final, winced as a nine-point lead at the three-quarter stage was reduced to just one late on.

But stoppage time points from substitute Cian Boyle and top scorer Ciaran Foley would prove decisive, ensuring a three-point win and another Leinster final clash with Galway.

Dublin and Galway met in the delayed 2020 final at this grade just last month and will face off again on July 27.

Dara Purcell was terrific for Dublin, striking 1-5 from play having been one of four players in their lineup that started the All-Ireland final loss to Cork.

But it was tough on Offaly who refused to relent and reeled off 1-5 without reply in the second-half to push Dublin all the way.

In all, eight of Dublin's starting team featured at some stage in the loss to Cork with four of them coming on in that four-point defeat.

Purcell looked like a player on a mission initially and tortured the Offaly defence with his clever running and neat stickwork.

He shortened the hurl and batted his first point in the fifth minute to put Dublin three points clear.

Then he followed in on the goalkeeper who collected a stray Dublin pass and forced a turnover, tapping back into an empty net.

It was a poor concession from Offaly's perspective and left them up against it, trailining 1-3 to 0-0.

Purcell added two more to stretch the gap to seven points though Offaly suddenly sprung into life, reeling off five points in a row.

Jack Screeney scored four of those from frees to leave just two between them at the water break.

The concession of another soft goal cost Offaly as Dublin were awarded a penalty, for an unnecessary foul by Dara Maher on Padhraic Linehan, and Foley converted.

Dublin lost centre-back Cian O Cathasaigh after a huge hit from Offaly's DJ McLoughlin though the hosts hit the half-time break with a 2-9 to 0-8 lead.

Offaly needed a goal to ignite the contest again but Tom Dooley's 42nd minute shot drew a strong save from Dublin's Ben Hynes.

Dublin led 2-13 to 0-11 at the second water break but Offaly finally got their goal upon the restart, Charlie Mitchell sniping from close range.

It cut the gap to five points and the margin was down to four when Joe Ryan pointed with seven minutes remaining.

Dublin were under real pressure and couldn't prevent Offaly from getting the margin down to just one, the Faithful getting a strong kick from subs Ronan Cleary, Cathal Kiely and Niall Lyons.

They couldn't get back to level terms though and Boyle proved an influential sub for Dublin with an insurance point before creating a goal chance that led to a 65 that Foley converted.

Dublin scorers: Ciaran Foley 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-5f, 0-1 65), Dara Purcell 1-5, Liam Dunne 0-1, Donal Leavy 0-1, Kevin Lahiff 0-1, Cian Boyle 0-1.

Offaly scorers: Jack Screeney 0-6 (0-6f), Charlie Mitchell 1-0, Cathal Kiely 0-3 (0-2f), Ronan Cleary 0-2 (0-1f), DJ McLoughlin 0-1, Cian Burke 0-1, Joe Ryan 0-1, Niall Lyons 0-1.

DUBLIN: Ben Hynes; Davy Crowe, Brian Sheehy, Iain O hEithir; Paddy Doyle, Cian O Cathasaigh, Patrick Dunleavy; Darragh Power, Donal Leavy; Darach McBride, Seamus Fenton, Padhraic Linehan; Ciaran Foley, Liam Dunne, Dara Purcell. Subs: Eddie Moran for O Cathasaigh (26), Kevin Lahiff for McBride (42), Pearce Christie for Linehan (54), Cian Boyle for Dunne (54), Joe Flanagan for O hEithir (62).

OFFALY: Adam Fitzgerald; Conor Hardiman, Aaron Flanagan, Peter Cleary; Padraic Watkins, Killian Sampson, Dara Maher; Jack Screeney, Cian Burke; Luke Egan, Tom Dooley, Luke Nolan; Charlie Mitchell, Joe Ryan, DJ McLoughlin. Subs: Niall Lyons for Flanagan (21), Cathal Kiely for Cleary (h/t), Ronan Cleary for Dooley (43), Joe Hoctor for Ryan (62).

Referee: Gearoid McGrath (Wexford).