RONAN MAC LOCHLAINN – 06 MAY 2013 02:00 PM
DUBLIN produced a dominant second-half performance when securing a conclusive 10-point victory (1-21 to 1-11) over Offaly in their Electric Ireland Leinster MHC quarter-final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday afternoon.
The Dubs trailed by a single point at the interval but with the wind at their backs upon the restart, they kicked into gear with eight successive points effectively sealing a semi-final berth for the reigning provincial holders.
Given the absence of experienced personnel in the form of Shane Barrett, Chris Bennett and Cian Boland, it was an encouraging display by an inexperienced Dublin selection with Eoghan O’Donnell impressing in the pivotal centre-half back position.
Another dual player took the scoring honours with Con O’Callaghan helping himself to 1-5 from play including a 51st-minute goal which all but sealed their progression to the last four, with Kilkenny (who must travel the backdoor route, where they face Kildare following the Cats’ defeat at the hands of Wexford) their most likely opposition.
The concession of a second-minute penalty, confidently despatched to the net by Offaly full-back Cillian Kiely, handed the hosts a dream start with Dublin ekeing out their first score through a third-minute free from captain Seán Treacy, younger brother of Dublin senior hurler David.
Dublin struggled to impose themselves in the early stages and their discipline let them down with Dylan Murray taking full advantage with a series of scores from placed balls.
However, the Dubs slowly regained their composure through points from O’Callaghan, Eoghan Ó Conghaile and injury-doubt Seán Ryan and a couple of Treacy frees ensured the visitors trailed by 1-8 to 0-10 at the interval.
The wind proved particularly influential upon the restart with Dublin stamping their authority on proceedings and they opened up a sizeable lead as Eoghan Conroy embellished a fine individual display with two points.
O’Callaghan, Andrew Jamieson-Murphy, Ó Conghaile and Treacy also found the target as Dublin raced seven points ahead by the 43rd minute with Offaly finally registering their first score of the half as late as the 47th minute through Emmett Nolan.
It failed to launch a comeback however and O’Callaghan’s fine goal nine minutes from time put the finishing touches to an impressive second-half performance, with further improvement required if the Dubs are to enjoy a prolonged championship campaign.
CONOR McDONALD was Wexford’s scoring hero as his superb individual tally of 3-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2f) helped the Slaneysiders defeat Kilkenny 3-7 to 1-10 in Saturday’s other Leinster MHC quarter-final at Nowlan Park.
McDonald bagged his first goal in the 10th minute when confusion in the Cats’ defence allowed him to finish to the net from close range.
His second goal came from a penalty in the 21st minute on the way to Wexford leading 2-4 to 1-4 at half-time.
Kilkenny cut the deficit to two points on a few occasions in the second half, but a late score from sub James Cash earned the Slaneysiders their semi-final ticket while Kilkenny must defeat Kildare to progress to the last-four in Leinster. Offaly face Laois in the other last-eight clash.