/ GAA

Westmeath 2-11 Offaly 1-08

Updated: Sunday, 08 Jun 2008 00:12

Dessie Dolan celebrates his goal Offaly's Niall McNamee is challenged by John Smyth
Dessie Dolan celebrates his goal Offaly's Niall McNamee is challenged by John Smyth

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Dessie Dolan arrived by helicopter from brother Gary’s wedding, and was still flying at the end of his side’s Leinster SFC quarter-final win at O’Connor Park.

Dolan hit a 1-4 tally as the Lake county, as expected, swept aside the challenge of Offaly in front of a crowd of 13,105.

A disappointing encounter only came to life for a four-minute spell midway through the second half which produced three goals and a dismissal.

Best man at the nuptials, Dolan was the best on view in Tullamore as well, and headed back to the Cavan Crystal Hotel on a high, with a double celebration to attend.

Westmeath, despite employing a blanket defensive strategy, were the more potent attacking force in the opening 10 minutes, going 0-3 to 0-1 ahead through Fergal Wilson, Dessie Dolan, both from frees, and corner back Francis Boyle.

But Ciaran McManus found a way to bypass a packed rearguard by kicking a mighty point from distance, but too many long range efforts landed harmlessly into the safe hands of goalkeeper Gary Connaughton.

Niall McNamee always threatened when in possession, kicking the opening Faithful point, but some poor finishing blunted his cutting edge throughout a frustrating first half for the home supporters, who watched in disbelief as their star attacker kicked wide from a straightforward 13 metre free.

At the other end, Padraic Kelly produced a fingertip save to deny Flanagan, who stroked the resultant ‘45’ between the posts, and another Dolan free made it 0-5 to 0-2.

But Offaly had their most productive spell in first half stoppage time, with McNamee and McManus, from a free, narrowing the gap to a single point, 0-5 to 0-4 at the break.

Influential Westmeath midfielder Flanagan failed to appear for the second half, after picking up an injury late in the opening period, but the Lake men stretched their advantage through Wilson and Dolan.

And when Wilson finished off a move involving John Smyth, Denis Glenon and Donal O’Donoghue with a fisted goal on 50 minutes, Westmeath led by seven.

Within a minute, however, Offaly hit back with a goal, McNamee netting at the second attempt after his penalty had been pushed onto the crossbar by Connaughton.

Almost immediately, Offaly were reduced to 14 men when full back Shane Sullivan was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Dolan, who promptly picked himself up off the deck to net his side’s second goal.

Three goals and a dismissal in the space of four minutes had more than compensated for a dull preceding 45 minutes, and although Offaly battled to the finish, adding three more pointed frees through McNamee and McManus - their only two scorers in the whole match - their challenge died.

Offaly: P Kelly, G Rafferty, S Sullivan, J Keane, P McConway, S Brady, N Grennan, C McManus (0-3, 2 frees), A McNamee, B Darby, K Slattery, N Smith, T Deehan, P Keelaghan, N McNamee (1-5 (3 frees).

Subs: J Reynolds for Brady, A Mulhall for Keelaghan, S Ryan for Deehan

Westmeath: G Connaughton, F Boyle (0-1), K Gavin, J Keane, M Ennis, D Heavin, D Healy, D O'Donoghue, M Flanagan, F Wilson (1-4, 2 frees), J Smyth, D Harte, A Mangan, D Glennon (0-1), D Dolan (1-4, 2 frees).

Subs: D Duffy for Flanagan, D Bannon for Mangan, D Glennon for Smyth

Referee: J McKee (Armagh)

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