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IRELAND ARE OUT of the Euros.

So now the country can hone right back in on its first love, hurling.

Galway are out to make a mark in Leinster, but in Portlaois, Offaly will not step obligingly step aside.Join in the fun: E-mail, tweet us @TheScore_ie or get on our Facebook page.

Galway 5-23 Offaly 3-15

Good afternoon, folks. Welcome along to our Leinster SHC liveblog. It’s set to be a cracking match-up.

With just over five minutes to the throw-in: Here are your teams.

Galway: James Skehill; Niall Donohue, Kevin Hynes, Fergal Moore (c); Joseph Cooney, Tony Óg Regan, Johnny Coen; Iarla Tannian, Andy Smith; David Burke, Niall Burke, Cyril Donnellan; Damien Hayes, Joe Canning, Conor Cooney.

Offaly: James Dempsey, Derek Morka, David Kenny, David Franks, Diarmuid Horan, Rory Hanniffy, James Rigney, Conor Mahon, Kevin Brady, Joe Bergin, Colin Egan, Brendan Murphy, Shane Dooley, Cathal Parlon, Brian Carroll.

We are underway in Portlaoise and, as the sun, tries to make a break-through Joe Canning has already sent a free wide to the left and was denied by a decent hook from James Rigney.

Game, well and truly; on.

THREE GOALS: Galway 2-0, Offaly 1- 0

An amazing start to this game as the sides trade early wides for four minutes before Conor Cooney, (twice in the space of 30 seconds) rounded his marker and advanced one-on-one with the ‘keeper.

Straight up the other end and Shane Dooley has hit the perfect reply.

Breathless opening.

GOAL: Galway 3-01 Offaly 1-01

And they don’t stop there. After the sides each rifle a shot over the bar, Joe Canning finds himself in space. A powerful low drive is saved by Dempsey, but in slides David Burke to help the Sliotar over the line.

Galway 3-01 Offaly 1-06

With 13 minutes gone, would it be stating the bleedin’ obvious to sat that the Offaly defence are not coping with the Tribe’s attack?

They’re not, but a couple of long Shane Dooley scores are keeping the Faithful in touch.

Damien Hayes looked  like he would net a fourth for Galway, but the pressure forced him to lose control.

20 mins: Galway 3-05 Offaly 1-06

Donnellan (now with three points from play) and Tannian have issued superb ripostes for Galway. It has been a blistering start, but the movement of the maroon forwards has been mesmerising. And with five wides, they could be clear leaders had they been slightly more accurate.

Worth noting, as Shane Dooley drops a free short of the goal, that Galway have achieved all of their eight scores from play.

Galway 3-09 Offaly 1-07

There is the problem in a nutshell for Offaly: Donnelan breaks from centre field, and they do well to smother his chance, but Damien hayes is following up and only too eager to pop one over the bar from 40 yards.

As I write, Joe Canning has finally pointed Galway’s first free of the day, and it’s soon followed by a sumptuous pick-up, turn and shoot from Hayes.

Galway can afford to ease off the pedal now, five minutes before half time.

33 mins: Galway 3-09 Offaly 1-10

Shane Dooley has taken his tally to 1-6 with two quick-fire points. He is keeping Offaly hanging onto coat-tails here in Portlaoise.

GOAL!: Galway 4-11 Offaly 1-10. (Damien Hayes)

In the 35th minute, Galway tear the Offaly defence open yet again: David Burke slamming a cross-shot into the path of Hayes who shows tremendous sill to pick it from the air and guide it into the corner in one fluid stride.

HALF TIME: Galway 4-11 Offaly 1-10

Phew! What a half of fluid, open hurling. A little too open from Offaly’s perspective. But with Canning back in harness – despite only having one point from play-Galway’s forward movement and power in contact has been extremely difficult to live with.

Let me get teh calculator out…. *tap tap tappity tap tap*…

That has Galway leading by 10 points at the break, a fairly hefty lead in championship terms.

Offaly will need some quick goals to get back into this, but the only blot on Galway’s sheet at the minute was when James Skehill went walkabout when they were leading by two goals to nil.

Here’s what I meant by walkabout. This is the still of Shane Dooley’s fifth minute goal.

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Gird your loins. The second half has begun at pace.

Galway 4-13 Offaly 1-10

Damien Hayes is back in the groove with the first score of the second half, but there is no blitzkrieg from Galway this time despite the fforts of Canning, the Faithful are defend bravely to deny him and send it behind for a 65.

From there, though, Canning sends it over the bar.

There’s talk of a disputed point from Galway, in the flurry of goals I can’t recall which one.

12 points down, Offaly would be well advised to let this one slide.

Galway 4-16 Offaly 1-11

Canning has hit three 65s already this half and, just now, a free from around 50.

It must be said, his shooting hasn’t been so hot from play.

Shane Dooley points another free, he’s doing it alone from open play and placed balls.

50 mins: Galway 4-16 Offaly 1-11

Shane Dooley has crashed a close range free off the bar, he had to goal for goal and did. But after bouncing out it fell to Sean Ryan on the right who miscued badly and hooked his shot left of the target.

Galway 4-18 Offaly 1-12

Obviously with Galway comfortably leading and Offaly outclassed the game has hit a bit of  a lull in terms of intensity and excitement.

It has reminded our resident Offaly commenter, Paul Ryan, of the not too distant past.

Ryan is stood on the cyber terrace bellowing out the Fields of Athenry and he doesn’t give a damn what Roy Keane thinks about it.

Very well done, sir.

GOAL: Galway 4-20 Offaly 2-14 (Shane Dooley ’58)

Just reward for all those loyal Faitful fans. Dooley’s shot is harmless enough, but it seems Skehill is in generous mood as he deflects the shot underneath his post.

Game on… well, still on. Just about.

GOAL: Galway 4-21 Offaly 3-14 (Dooley ’64)

The corner forward once again manages to find the weak link in Galway’s defence. This time his goal comes from a free, driven low at the feet of defenders.

It should have been stopped, but dribbles through.

GOAL: Galway 5-23 Offaly 3-14 (Davy Glennon ’70)

FULL TIME:Galway 5-23 Offaly 3-15

The final whistle goes, but this one was long since decided. The second half acted as little more than a training match as Galway were able to keep Offaly arm’s length throughout.

Ollie Baker will have a lot of work on his hands to pick up his team after that. But, to take a step back, the Leinster title was always slightly out of reach. Is it better to be outplayed by Galway than obliterated by Kilkenny?

Maybe not, but Offaly showed enough spirit in attack to ensure Galway will be nothing more than rank outsiders in the final against Kilkenny.

“We’ll be happy any day you get into a Leinster final, but we have work to do.” Galway boss, Anthony Cunningham told RTE.

“I’m happy for the lads – they worked hard and were sharper all over the field.”

Well, that’s all from me folks.

Thanks for stopping by to let me keep you up to date on some lovely – but at times mesmeric – hurling action. Be sure to join Paul Fennessy in a few short minutes for Clare v Waterford.

About the author:

Sean Farrell