OFFALY TAKES ROAD TO FINAL
Astoria Gaels 2-8
Offaly qualified for the intermediate final against Roscommon courtesy of this win over the Gaels of Astoria. With John Purcell brilliant from frees and the side able to respond to an Astoria goal with a flood of points, they were deserving of the win and will have no fears in the next round.
It was all Offaly to open the game. They had a 0-6 to nil lead by the 16th minute. John Purcell had two frees when he punished two late tackles, while Ray Keenan advanced to join the attack for one excellent score.
The side had settled easily and their moves into attack had the Astoria backs at sixes and sevens. Astoria had two wides in this period, but they were having huge difficulty in moving the ball into attack.
The duck was finally broken when a long solo run down the left wing by Nester Allen resulted with a cross field ball hitting Derek McKenna on top of the square. The veteran shot low to the net to bring his side immediately back into the game.
The sides swapped scores as the 20th minute arrived with Sam Yore and John Curran the men with the hot feet. The sides again had a score a piece, with James White wisely fisting over with the goal staring him in the face.
It was Offaly who finished strongest, however, as again Purcell punished an indescression with a pointed free.
Astoria had five minutes of complete dominance to open the second half, but they only had a Shaun Munnelly free to show after Allen was fouled. Shane Sweeney had a goal chance that he drove wide when he might have been wiser to tap over the bar.
After Gary Cornyn and Jason Kelly cancelled each other out Astoria had a huge break. Allen took a feed from sub James Dolan and soloed to the corner.
When he turned back he found Cornyn, who was then fouled for a penalty. Kelly blasted the ball to the top right corner and the sides were level.
It awoke Offaly, however, and they had five of the next six points as Vinnie Gavin rifled two points over and Purcell had scores from frees.
It pushed their side out into a four point lead, and as Astoria came back each time with Dolan and McKenna points Offaly were able to cancel them out with Purcell scores.
Offaly had a host of stars in the win. Ray Keenan, John Fitzpatrick and Will Holton were excellent at the back. Vinnie Gavin’s points were at a critical stage. Jason Kelly is a flyer on the 40, while John Curran, Timmy Quaid and the outstanding John Purcell gave Astoria nightmares at the back.
Astoria did not play to their potential at all. Gary Cornyn, Red McGuinness and Sean Kelly had moments at the back, Sam Yore had an excellent second half when he lifted the team, Derek McKenna took his two scores well. Nester Allen created the two goals and could have done more if the ball was ripped in his direction, with James Dolan very effective off the bench.
Astoria Gaels: Georgie Doyle, 2 Red McGuinness, 3 Alan Foley, 4 Gary Cornyn, 5 Damien Ward, 6 Sean Kelly (1-0), 7 Michael Coyle, 8 Sam Yore (0-2), 9 Derek McKenna (1-1), 10 James White (0-1), 11 Shane Sweeney, 12 Kenneth Quirke, 13 Nester Allen, 14 Pa Ryan, 15 Shaun Munnelly (0-1). Subs: James Dolan (0-1).
Offaly: 1 John McGinley, 2 Mark Dolan, 3 Will Holtan, 4 Mike Maher, 5 Pat Kelly, 6 Ray Keenan (0-1), 7 John Fitzpatrick, 8 Vinnie Gavin (0-2), 9 Noel Coughlin, 10 Tom Rosney, 11 Jason Kelly (0-2), 12 John Curran (0-1), 13 John Purcell (0-9), 14 Timmy Quaid, 15 Mike Dolan. Subs: Brian Delaney, Trevor Flynn.
Man of the match: John Purcell (Offaly).
Referee: Tommy Fahey (Waterford).
CLOSE CALL FOR ROSCOMMON
Roscommon built a large halftime lead in the second intermediate semifinal on Sunday, but then had to withstand a furious comeback by Dublin. In fact the winners had to come from behind at the end to get the win.
They would not have been in the precarious situation, but Alan O’Reilly brilliantly saved two Senan O’Grady penalties to give Dublin a lifeline which they embraced, but with the loss of a man due to a red card, the hill was too high to climb for the Dubs.
The first score of the contest came from Dublin when Shane Moore finished off a hard worked move with a point. It was all Roscommon on the scoreboard, however, over the next 10 minutes.
Michael O’Reilly, advancing from his six slot started the ball rolling. A Liam O’Sullivan free, followed by Adrian Tate and Michael Travers scores, had them ahead on the board and they were dominant across the field.
But for a good stop on a O'Sullivan shot by Kevin Fitzgerald and a save on the rebound by Alan O’Reilly it would have been more.
Michael O’Reilly again advanced to get his second score before O’Grady had his first penalty saved after O’Sullivan was fouled.
Before the half arrived Roscommon did get a goal when a long ball from Shane Russell was picked up by Travers, who moved the ball to an advancing O’Sullivan and the net was shaking. It gave the Rosses a 1-5 to 0-1 lead at the short whistle and the game appeared over.