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Offaly resurgence continues as minor hurlers reach first All-Ireland since '89

Ferocious defence and goals by Adam Screeney and Conor Doyle in either half saw Offaly past The Banner.

Conor Doyle celebrates Offaly's second goal.
Conor Doyle celebrates Offaly's second goal.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

Offaly 2-16

Clare 0-18

Kevin Egan reports from Semple Stadium

THE CONTINUED RESURGENCE in Offaly GAA took another huge step forward tonight in Thurles as the Faithful County edged out Clare to reach their first All-Ireland minor hurling final since 1989.

Goals by Adam Screeney and Conor Doyle in either half were the key scores on the board, but it was Offaly’s ferocious defensive work and their victory in the turnover battle that pushed them over the line against a Clare side that was far more efficient up front but simply couldn’t carve out the goal chance they badly needed.

james-organ-is-consoled-by-conor-doyle-after-the-game Clare's James Organ is consoled by Offaly's Conor Doyle after the game. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

Nerves plagued both teams in the early exchanges as an array of shots were sent off target at either end, but Clare were the first to settle, building on an early snapshot from Jack O’Neill.

Corner backs Caelum Larkin and Ruairí Kelly had to be sharp to deny Sam Scanlon a clear goal chance, with Oisín Whelan pointing the resultant 65, and further scores from James Organ and Whelan put Clare into a commanding lead coming up to the quarter hour mark.

It wasn’t until the 14th minute that Offaly finally got off the mark with a free from Adam Screeney, but as soon as they did, they were ahead within four minutes of play.

A majestic strike on the run from wing-back Donal Shirley raised the volume in the Ó Ríain stand to a considerable degree, and that was quickly followed up by a long-range free from Dan Ravenhill.

Cillian Martin attempted to level the game with the next attack but a partial block on the ball led to the sliotar running through to Adam Screeney, and the corner forward made no mistake, rounding his man and floating a clever touch of the ball past the Clare goalkeeper.

adam-screeney-hits-the-ball-past-mark-sheedy-to-score-his-sides-1st-goal-of-the-match Adam Screeney finds the net. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

The wide count continued to mount on both sides, with Oisín Whelan and Matthew O’Halloran keeping Clare in the game with good scores, but Offaly held their nerve to lead by two at half-time, 1-6 to 0-7.

By far the best spell of the game, both from Offaly’s perspective and from the point of quality, was at the start of the second half, when the two sides exploded out of the blocks.

Jack O’Neill opened the scoring for Clare but Offaly’s reply was emphatic, a long puck out that was fielded by Conor Doyle and as the defence opened up in front of him, he turned down the easy point and drove for goal, making it count as he fired a low shot into the corner from just inside the 20m line.

As Dan Ravenhill hoisted over a couple of glorious long range scores, Offaly moved six clear and looked like they might pull away to win well, but again Clare rallied and four points on the spin, the highlight a crafty steal and strike from Diarmuid Stritch, threw everything right back in the melting pot.

dan-ravenhill-is-interviewed-after-the-game Dan Ravenhill interviewed after the game. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

Offaly had a trump card however in the shape of substitute Daniel Hand, who was unavailable for the Leinster final but came on to play a key role here, firing over a vital, settling point and also winning a couple of key possessions.

Again Offaly moved six clear, but again Clare rallied, this time with Offaly beginning to allow tiredness to affect some of their decision making on the ball.

Cian Neylon got two good points, though one could have been a goal chance but for solid defensive work from Rúairí Kelly, while Oisín Whelan knocked over a few frees as tension grew. But having gotten within 30 metres of the Offaly goal, Clare couldn’t find a way through, and eventually Screeney was able to deliver the killer blow in the third minute of stoppage time.

Scorers for Offaly: Adam Screeney 1-5 (0-5f), Dan Ravenhill 0-6 (0-3f), Conor Doyle 1-0, Donal Shirley 0-1, Daniel Hand 0-1, Cillian Martin 0-1, Leigh Kavanagh 0-1, Shane Rigney 0-1.

Scorers for Clare: Oisín Whelan 0-8 (0-6f, 0-1 65), Cian Neylon 0-3, James Organ 0-2, Jack O’Neill 0-2, Matthew O’Halloran 0-1, Diarmuid Stritch 0-1, Sam Scanlon 0-1.

Offaly

1. Liam Hoare (Carrig and Riverstown)

2. Caelum Larkin (Carrig and Riverstown), 3. James Mahon (Kilcormac-Killoughey) 4. Ruairí Kelly (Lusmagh)

7. Ter Guinan (Kilcormac-Killoughey), 6. Brecon Kavanagh (Kilcormac-Killoughey) 5. Donal Shirley (Tubber)

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14. Niall Furlong (Tullamore), 9. Cillian Martin (Tullamore)

12. Conor Doyle (Clara), 11. Dan Ravenhill (Durrow), 8. Leigh Kavanagh (Kilcormac-Killoughey)

15. Adam Screeney (Kilcormac-Killoughey), 10. Shane Rigney (St. Rynagh’s), 13. Cathal Robinson (Kinnitty)

Subs: Daniel Hand (Kilcormac-Killoughey) for Robinson (half-time), Shane Connolly (Coolderry) for Martin (60+3).

Clare

1. Mark Sheedy (Sixmilebridge)

2. Eoghan Gunning (Broadford), 3. Fionán Treacy (Éire Óg), 4. John Cahill (Clooney Quin)

5. Seán McMahon (Smith O’Briens), 6. James Hegarty (Inagh Kilnamona), 7. Jamie Moylan (Cratloe)

8. Matthew O’Halloran (Sixmilebridge), 9. Diarmuid Stritch (Clonlara)

10. Michael Collins (Clonlara), 11. Jack O’Neill (Clooney Quin), 12. James Organ (Corofin)

13. Sam Scanlon (Clooney Quin), 14. Oisín Whelan (Clarecastle), 15. Cian Neylon (Kilmaley)

Subs: Riain McNamara (Cratloe) for Treacy (36-38, temp), Piarás Ó Sé (Ruan) for Collins (39), Dylan Keane Hayes (Kilmoyley) for Neylon (57), McNamara for Moylan (60+3), Fred Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Whelan (60+4).

Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary)

About the author:

Kevin Egan

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