Offaly and Kilkenny through to Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling Final
Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling semi-finals
OFFALY 2-18 WESTMEATH 1-8KILKENNY 0-23 WEXFORD 1-14
By Kevin Egan
Following up on the football success yesterday, Offaly reached their first Leinster Minor Hurling Championship final since 2003 at Westmeath’s expense, as Lochlann Quinn produced a masterclass performance for the victors.
They’ll meet Kilkenny in the championship final next month after the young cats accounted for Wexford in the afternoon’s other semi-final.
Quinn controlled proceedings throughout the midlands derby in Mullingar, and he was ably assisted by Luke Carey up front.
Westmeath came into the game on the back of a sensational win over Dublin last time out, but their attempt to reach a first ever provincial decider at this grade fell short as they only scored one point in the concluding 30 minutes of action.
Leo O’Connor’s Offaly side outscored their opponents 1-13 to 0-1 in the second half as they refused to allow Westmeath a way back in to the game.
The game started at a blistering pace as Luke Carey struck a goal for Offaly inside the first minute but from the next passage of play, Westmeath’s Darragh McCormack had a goal bound effort blocked but David Williams was on hand to hammer the loose sliothar to the net.
Westmeath grew in confidence and they struck five of the next six scores with Darragh McCormack hitting the pick of the lot. Offaly hit back to trail by three at the water break, giving themselves a foothold in a game as they hurled into a deceptively strong wind.
Eamonn Cuneen, who scored nine points in Westmeath’s win against Dublin, made it 1-7 to 1-3 but two Lochlann Quinn frees meant Offaly trailed by two at half time.
Offaly enjoyed wind advantage in the second half and they made it count with Quinn notching two frees and a brace of points from play before Carey and Charlie Mitchell gave Offaly a four-point lead.
The Faithful County continued to pile on the misery for Westmeath as Quinn struck an inspirational score to push the gap out to six. Quinn and Carey helped stretch Offaly’s advantage before substitute Daniel Bourke rattled the Westmeath net to seal the victory for Offaly.
It was a story of two contrasting halves in Chadwicks Wexford Park as well as Kilkenny overturned a six-point half time deficit to down Wexford by 0-23 to 1-14. A Luke Murphy goal in the 35th minute put Wexford 1-12 to 0-8 up but the Cats dominated thereafter as Billy Drennan showed his accuracy from placed balls.
It was Kilkenny who started quicker as they raced four points clear, but Wexford’s Cian Byrne, who is a grandson of 1963 All-Ireland medallist Willie Carley, struck a sublime sideline cut to help level the game at the water break.
Byrne continued to punish any Kilkenny ill-discipline as he helped Wexford lead by three before Harry Shine’s goal effort for Kilkenny was excellently saved by Wexford goalkeeper Regan Treacy.
Kilkenny missed the ’65 with Byrne adding two further points as Wexford led by six at half time. Richie Mulrooney’s charges managed to reduce their deficit to four before Liam Murphy pulled first time to the net for the Yellowbellies.
Two points by Drennan, who is also an All-Ireland minor handball champion, alongside scores from Shine and Killian Doyle helped Kilkenny gain momentum.
Drennan levelled the game at 0-16 to 1-13 with his 10th point before he moved his side in front. Wexford were struggling to gain possession and Kilkenny continued to score from distance with Drennan unerring in his accuracy.
Kilkenny moved five points clear before a Drennan free ensured Kilkenny moved a step closer to winning a first Leins