Walsh Cup: Dublin deliver a bench-powered comeback
Walsh Cup Hurling
DUBLIN 2-23 OFFALY 1-20
Kevin Egan at St. Brendan’s Park, Birr
Dublin will head into next weekend’s Walsh Cup final with even more of a spring in their step after they survived a tough test against Offaly at St. Brendan’s Park in Birr this afternoon, turning around a four-point half-time deficit to win by six points at the end of a hugely entertaining encounter.
Last week Mattie Kenny’s side did as they liked against Galway in Parnell Park, but this was a completely different type of game, where Offaly’s ability to work the ball through the lines and create space for John Murphy and Jason Sampson close to goal caused the Metropolitans plenty of problems.
Three outstanding scores from Fergal Whitely, off the first three touches of the sliothar from the Kilmacud Crokes player, gave Dublin an early 0-3 to 0-1 lead despite playing into the breeze. Offaly had the ball in the net from Murphy but play was called back as he had been tripped by James Madden before scoring, so referee Caymon Flynn showed a black card to Madden and awarded the penalty, which was pushed wide of the target by Eoghan Cahill.
As the half went on however, Cahill’s shooting was exemplary as he racked up 0-9 of his eventual total of 0-11, including three excellent scores from play, while Dublin’s finishing was poor, particularly Ronan Hayes from dead balls. Hayes missed three chances that he would expect to score, though he did find the net after outstanding work from Cian O’Sullivan beat two Offaly defenders and set him up with just Conor Clancy to beat from close range.
That score was in response to Brian Duignan’s goal for Offaly, tapped in from close range after Alan Nolan did brilliantly to parry the first effort from the son of Offaly GAA chairman Michael, leaving Offaly 1-4 to 1-3 in front at the water break.
The sides continued to trade scores of the highest quality right up until the closing minutes of the half, when a run of scores, including two for Adrian Cleary, gave Offaly a little bit of breathing room.
The home side were a little unfortunate that the breeze freshened from about the 25 minute mark and by the time the second half started, it was much more significant factor in the game. Even more pertinent however was the introduction of host of Dublin substitutes that appeared to strengthen the hand of the visitors. Andrew Dunphy and Chris Crummey made a positive impact in the back division, Kevin Burke got on a lot of scrappy ball in the middle third where already, Dublin had a key figure in Conor Burke, while Donal Burke’s seven points proved crucial.
Riain McBride slipped in a second goal from close range in the heart of a crucial ten-minute spell early in the second half when Dublin outscored Offaly by 1-5 to 0-1, and from then on the home side simply couldn’t make inroads into the Dublin lead.
Donal Burke, whose grandfather Billy was a former life president of the St. Rynagh’s club in Offaly, completely addressed Dublin’s freetaking issues, while Seán Currie and Chris Crummey also tacked on late points to help the visitors pull away even further and build additional momentum in advance of what should be a very competitive Walsh Cup final against Wexford next Saturday.
Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 0-7 (0-3f, 0-1 65), Fergal Whitely 0-4, Ronan Hayes 1-2 (0-1 '65', 0-1f), Riain McBride 1-1, Cian O'Sullivan and Danny Sutcliffe 0-2 each, Daire Gray, Sean Moran (f), Davy Keogh, Chris Crummey and Sean Currie 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 0-11 (0-8f), Adrian Cleary 0-3, Brian Duignan 1-0, John Murphy and David Nally (2f) 0-2 each, Jason Sampson and Luke O'Connor 0-1 each.
Dublin: Alan Nolan; Cian O'Callaghan, Eoghan O'Donnell, John Bellew; Daire Gray, James Madden, Sean Moran; Conor Burke, Davy Keogh; Fergal Whitely, Riain McBride, Cian O'Sullivan; Eamon Dillon, Danny Sutcliffe, Ronan Hayes.
Subs: Andrew Dunphy for Madden (40), Donal Burke for Dillon (42), Chris Crummey for Keogh (45), Kevin Burke for O'Callaghan (48), Paul Crummey for O'Sullivan (51), Alex Considine for Hayes (54), Sean Currie for Whitley (58), Cillian Hayes for Moran (61), John Hetherton for Sutcliffe (64), Luke Walsh for Gray (70).
Offaly: Conor Clancy; Paddy Delaney, Joey Keenaghan, David King; Jack Screeney, Ben Conneely, Killian Sampson; Leon Fox, Ross Ravenhill; Eoghan Cahill, Eimhin Kelly, Adrian Cleary; John Murphy, Jason Sampson, Brian Duignan.
Subs: Conor Molloy for Delaney (2), Luke O'Connor for Duignan (45), David Nally for Cleary (58), Eoghan Parlon for Kelly (59), Morgan Watkins for Cahill (66), Conor Butler for Screeney (66).
Referee: Caymon Flynn (Westmeath)