Sports

Offaly Survive Westmeath Test To Set Up Semi Final Showdown With Galway

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Offaly danced with danger in Mullingar on Saturday night but at the end of a full blooded and hugely entertaining local derby, Kevin Ryan's charges came out on top on a 4-15 to 1-20 scoreline and advanced to the semi final of the Leinster hurling championship and a date with League champions, Galway.
Offaly were poor in the opening half and could only manage 1-4 in the opening half while Westmeath sailed on to 0-12 by the sounding of Sean Cleere's half time whistle.
The test was there for them in the second half. Trailing by five points, was there a kick in them or would they go down tamely like 12 months previous when Westmeath beat them by 14 points.
In the end, Offaly hit 3-11 in the second half with Shane Dooley to the fore carding an overall tally of 3-8 over the 70 plus minutes. It was a funny game for Dooley who drifted in and out of it with his marker Tommy Doyle also making some hay.
Speaking on Dooley after the game, Kevin Ryan wasn't surprised it was the Tullamore man who stood up the plate.
"He has done that... I remember the Tipperary game (league quarter final). You are on the verge of taking him out of it, 10 or 15 minutes to go and he's tired. And he ends up getting 2-3 in the last three minutes. He is a very hard lad to take out of it even when he is not going well," Ryan said.
"He did an immense job for us, it wasn't just scoring. We had a good look at Westmeath and the full-back was setting up a lot of plays for them. A very hard man to mark. Shane kept him occupied. We were very happy with Shane's contribution even before he was scoring.
"That last goal, that's his experience and awareness. The goalkeeper had taken the four steps and had to throw it up. Shane was just there to tip it in. Very good."
While Offaly now advance to the Leinster semi final, just as big a reward in the mind of Kevin Ryan is avoiding a potential Round Robin series in 2018 which they would have been set for if they had lost.
"The pressure we had ourselves under not to go back into the round-robin was immense. It's a ridiculous thing, it affects everything, getting club championship, a couple of rounds done, getting lads back to the club. It's a crazy competition. We probably made it even harder on ourselves than it was. But that's what it meant to us."
Sunday the 18th of June will see the Offaly v Galway semi final take place in Portlaoise and Ryan and his backroom team will have plenty to mull over especially given the performances of Paddy Murphy and Joe Bergin off the bench.
Competition is high and with morale now lifted with a first round championship win, the big challenge will come down the line after Galway put Dublin to the sword at their ease on Sunday.
For a full match report, see inside.

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