Offaly Advance to Leinster Minor Football Final

November 8, 2018

Offaly 0-10 Laois 0-9

TOWERING mid-fielder and influential captain Noel Andrew Graham kicked seven points as Offaly booked their place in the ESB Leinster MFC Final against Longford or Kildare on Sunday week at Croke Park. Graham’s accuracy was the highlight of a tight and dour midlands derby in O’Connor Park, Tullamore tonight (Wednesday June 30th).
Denis Lalor managed Laois began very impressively and they stormed three points clear in as many minutes as Paul Kingston converted a free and Damian O’Connor added two quality scores from play. Thanks to towering mid-fielder and influential captain Noel Andrew Graham, Offaly regained their composure and they kicked six unanswered points to lead 0-6 to 0-3 by the 15th minute. Graham was on target four times split equally between frees and play, while Paul McPadden and Peter Cunningham also contributed to the ‘Faithful’ tally. Laois enjoyed the upper hand in the scoring stakes during the second quarter. Kingston (two) and Daryl Hayden split the uprights, with Graham’s successful 26th minute ’45 ensuring his side led by the minimum, 0-7 to 0-6, at the break.
Within three minutes of the restart Laois, who’d introduced two replacements, tied proceedings for the second occasion courtesy of Jamie Farrell and his point proved to be the only one from play of a scrappy concluding period. Offaly restored their three point advantage by the 45th minute, 0-10 to 0-7, as Graham (2) and Stuart Cullen dispatched accurate frees. Ken Kellaghan’s Offaly tended to indulge in far too much over elaboration and their poor finishing left Laois hanging in their with a chance of snatching a dramatic win. Successful frees by Shane McCauley and Kingston got the O’Moore’s back to within a point and in the final minute alert Offaly ‘keeper Matt Carragher smothered a McCauley strike to ensure his side reached a fourth provincial decider since 2005.
OFFALY: M Carragher; C Lowry, E Rigney, C Donohoe; S Hannon, D Hogan, D Hanlon; NA Graham (0-7, 0-4 frees & 0-1 ‘45), P Camon; P Cunningham (0-1), D Kelly, S Cullen (0-1 free); P McPadden (0-1), B Cushen, J O’Connor.
LAOIS: G Brody; S Murphy, K Bracken, R Dunne; J Bolton, A Ryan, M Dowling; J Farrell (0-1), L Kearney; D O’Connor (0-2), D Byrne, B Kenna; S McCauley (0-1 free), D Hayden (0-1), P Kingston (0-4, 0-3 frees). Subs.: L McGovern for Kenna (half time), N Mullen for Dowling (half time), J Campion for Byrne (43 mins) Referee: E Craul, Wicklow.