Walsh Cup: Offaly's win boosts Wexford, Dublin beat Westmeath
WALSH CUP RESULTS
DUBLIN 1-20 WESTMEATH 0-15
OFFALY 2-21 LAOIS 1-23
A dramatic comeback win for Offaly means that Wexford have qualified for the final of the Walsh Cup by virtue of their head-to-head win over Kilkenny at Chadwicks Wexford Park, and it’s the Model County who will take on Galway in next week’s decider.
Going into this afternoon’s games, Laois needed to beat Offaly by 25 points to finish top of the table, and it’s a measure of quite how dominant they were in the first half of the game at Glenisk O’Connor Park that there were supporters in the venue starting to wonder if this might actually be possible.
With 27 minutes gone, Laois were absolutely dominant in every sector of the field, but particularly in the half-back line, where Paddy Purcell, Pádraig Delaney and Jack Kelly completely devoured their Offaly counterparts.
James Duggan was on the mark for their goal, and while Brian Duignan raised a green flag for the home side on the half-hour mark, he was then dismissed on a straight red card just before the interval, leaving it 1-14 to 1-6 in favour of Willie Dunphy’s men.
The introduction of a raft of subs, including former captain Ben Conneely who helped shore up the leaky backline, changed the game. Promising teenager Charlie Mitchell swept in a goal that helped Offaly keep the scoreline respectable, but it was only when Pádraig Delaney was also sent off going into the final quarter that the Faithful County kicked on.
John Murphy, Paddy Clancy and Jack Clancy all scored from play to help level the tie, PJ Scully’s 16th point of the afternoon nudged Laois back in front, then Mitchell won two frees that Cathal Kiely converted to seal the win, and prevent Laois from joining Wexford and Kilkenny on four points, which would in turn have seen Kilkenny top the group on scoring difference.
There was no such drama at Coralstown-Kinnegad GAA club, where Dublin produced a simple, efficient performance that easily saw off the challenge of the home side.
Cian Boyle, Donal Burke, Dara Purcell and Davy Keogh each shot two points from play in the first half as Dublin marched to an 0-12 to 0-5 interval lead against a Westmeath side that were hoping to build on last weekend’s competitive showing against Antrim at Abbotsown, albeit where they still fell narrowly short.
However they were locked down by a powerful Dublin defensive performance this afternoon, and while they found some form for a ten-minute spell early in the second half when Jack Galvin (0-3), Mark Cunningham and Joey Boyle all found the target, Davy Keogh’s goal with just under a quarter of an hour remaining killed off any lingering hopes of a comeback for the Lake County.