Offaly staged a dramatic second-half comeback to deny Kildare a place in the Bank of Ireland Leinster final with a spirited 1-09 to 1-09 draw at Kilkenny's Nowlan Park this afternoon. Having trailed by a significant margin at the interval, veteran Vinny Claffey scored the equalising point in injury time for Offaly, fisting the ball over the bar from close range.
With a strong wind behind them Kildare dominated the first-half and led by 1-06 to 0-01 at half-time with Martin Lynch very prominent for The Lilywhites scoring three of his side's points from play. The Kildare goal came on 23 minutes when a Killian Brennan long ball broke from Offaly 'keeper Padraig Kelly's grasp and Tadgh Fennin was on hand to hustle the ball to the net.
Offaly began the second-half with points from Colm Quinn, Ciaran McManus and Pascal Keelahan and hit five wides in the opening 15 minutes as they enjoyed the benefit of the strong wind. However, Kildare still led by 1-08 to 0-05 after 22 minutes before Offaly finally found their range with points from Barry Mooney and James Grennan and McManus converted a 30th minute penalty following a foul on Neville Coughlan to reduce the margin to one point.
Kildare steadied with a point from Padraig Hurley but in a rousing finale a McManus 45 was calmly fisted over the bar by Claffey to force a replay at the same venue next Saturday at 6.15pm.
Filed by Shane Murray