Carlow have qualified for the second Joe McDonagh Cup final. At their home patch in Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday they put a severely weakened Offaly team to the sword with the visitors hardly putting up a fight.

At the same time, Laois did what they had to do in Kerry winning handsomely enough but it will have been a long road home for the O'Moore players as news came through that Carlow were also victorious.

Carlow’s neighbours will surely ask questions about Offaly’s motivation but the losing management team here will surely be worried. Not one of their fringe players put in a performance which would have merited consideration for selection in the final in two weeks’ time.

The final standings

Carlow were on the front-foot from the start. James Doyle fired over a point. Marty Kavanagh converted a free. They could have had a goal but Chris Nolan was dismayed that the whistle had blown for a free in a split second before he pulled the trigger. Fine margins indeed.

These things balance out and Offaly were later penalised for an illegal hand-pass with a clear overlap against a Carlow defence which had gone too far forward.

Carlow's leading scorer of all time, Marty Kavanagh, converted a succession of frees while James Doyle, with three from play, was always threatening the Offaly defence. Only Shane Dooley at full-forward and full-back, Ben Conneely, stood between the visitors and total humiliation. Elsewhere, Offaly players got nothing out of a determined and focussed home side.

At the break, Carlow led 0-16 to 0-6. Only a complete accident was going to deny them. Even though Dooley and Liam Langton flighted over Offaly points in the opening minutes of the second half, their comeback was never on.

Kavanagh landed four points from play.

There was a sense of the unreal around the ground as home supporters tried to absorb what they were witnessing. They came in anticipation of a close contest with a nerve-jangling ending. Instead they were able to sit back and usher Carlow safe passage to Croke Park in two weeks’ time.

Carlow: Brian Tracey; Paul Doyle, Conor Lawler, Jack McCullagh; Fiachra Fitzpatrick (0-1), Diarmuid Byrne, Jack Kavanagh; Kevin McDonald (0-1), James Doyle (0-3); Jon Nolan (0-1), Marty Kavanagh (0-14 7fs 65), Conor Kehoe (1-1); John Michael Nolan (0-1), Paddy Boland (0-2), Chris Nolan (0-5-1 sl).

Subs: Fiach O’Toole for Kehoe (60), Niall Bolger for P Doyle (62), Richard Coady for J. M. Nolan (65), Jack Treacy for C Nolan (67), Paudie O’Shea for M Kavanagh (69).

Offaly: Eamonn Cleary; Conor Hardiman, Ben Conneely, James Nally (0-1); Dara Maher (0-2), Killian Sampson, Eoghan Parlon; Paddy Delaney (0-1), Jack Screeney; Liam Langton (0-1), Joey Keenaghan, Conor Langton; Cathal O’Meara, Shane Dooley (0-7 (4fs), John Murphy (0-1).

Subs: David King for Keenaghan (36 blood), Paddy Clancy for Sampson (h/t), Eimhin Kelly (0-1) for O’Meara (h/t), King for Langton (52), Jack Clancy for Screeney (64),

Referee: Chris Mooney (Dublin)