Dublin 1-12 Offaly 0-13
Dublin qualified for the Leinster final today, beating Offaly by two points after being given a timely boost by the introduction of Vinny Murphy. The game took a while to get going, and it was thirteen minutes before the first score with Colm Quinn landing an excellent point from neat the touchline.
Vinny Claffey was causing a lot of trouble for the Dublin full-back line, scoring a point and being involved in most of Offaly's best moments. Dessie Farrell then kick-started Dublin's game, scoring a good point, and Senan Connell also came to life kicking two good points to put Dublin ahead by 0-5 to 0-4. Offaly were then unfortunate to lose Colm Quinn through injury, as he had been performing well, but Roy Malone came on as a sub, and made an immediate impact by fisting a point. But Dublin led at the break by a solitary score, 0-6 to 0-5.
Mel Keenaghan landed the first point of the second-half, again after good work by Claffey. Wayne McCarthy then landed two points, including his first from play, with a pointed free by Claffey sandwiched in between. Dublin then plundered the only goal of the match, with Ian Robertson getting a fist to a high ball and forcing it across the line.
Offaly appeared to be able to make goal chances with ease, but they were unable to convert any of them, Alan McNamee firing over the bar from close range, and Stephen Cluxton making a fine save from Ciaran McManus. Points by Gary Comerford and Alan McNamee brought the sides level for the fifth time in the game, at 1-8 to 0-11. And then McManus went for goal again, this time seeing his 20-yard shot come back off the post. This miss was immediately punished by Robertson scoring a point to regain the lead for Dublin.
Dublin talisman Vinny Murphy was then introduced, and his first involvement was to be booked, and to spark a mini-pitch invasion by an irate Dublin fan. Dublin, however, immediately seemed to benefit from having a new focal point to their attack. Jason Sherlock got his first point of the game, after Offaly tried to walk the ball out of defence, and then Murphy then landed an inspirational point, catching a highball in his usual style before firing over.
McManus and Malone grabbed a point each to reduce the deficit, but Murphy had the last word, earning and scoring a free. Offaly tried hard to get the goal that would have snatched the game for them, but Dublin stood firm and now go into the Leinster final against either Meath or Kildare, while Offaly have the consolation of entering the All Ireland qualifier series.
Dublin: W McCarthy 0-4 (0-3 frees), I Robertson 1-1, S Connell 0-2, D Farrell 0-2, V Murphy 0-2 (0-1 free), J Sherlock 0-1
Offaly: V Claffey 0-3 (0-2 free), C Quinn 0-2 (0-1 free), R Malone 0-2, A McNamee 0-2, Sean Brennan 0-1, M Keenaghan 0-1, G Comerford 0-1, C McManus 0-1 (45)
Filed by Pat Nugent