Dublin clinches final spot in Leinster Championship, overpowers Offaly


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Dublin is set to meet Louth again in the Leinster Championship final, marking the second consecutive season they’ve faced off after breezing past Offaly at Croke Park. With goals courtesy of Paul Mannion, Niall Scully, and Colm Basquel, Dublin secured a comfortable victory in front of a crowd of 21,957, solidifying their spot in the final alongside Louth in two weeks.

This rematch of last year’s final sees reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin favoured to clinch their 14th consecutive Leinster crown. As for Offaly, they’ll be relegated to the Tailteann Cup. However, given their generally positive season under Declan Kelly’s leadership, they remain hopeful of contending strongly for that title.

Dublin’s 20-point victory margin may have seemed a bit generous, especially as they surged ahead with 1-5 unanswered in the final minutes. Colm Basquel sealed Dublin’s third goal during second-half stoppage time, ending as the top scorer with 1-3, while Con O’Callaghan contributed 1-2. Impressively, Dublin boasted a dozen different scorers.

The starting lineup saw James McCarthy’s return for the first time since last July’s All-Ireland final victory over Kerry, drawing cheers from the Dublin faithful even before the game kicked off.

The nine-time All-Ireland champion donned the number 20 jersey, stepping in for Brian Howard, while Cormac Costello replaced Ross McGarry in the forward line. The reigning champions wasted no time, putting four points on the board before Offaly managed to open their scoring in the 16th minute.

O’Neill Shines Amidst Offaly Struggles

However, the delay was worthwhile as former U-20 standout Keith O’Neill showcased his talent, slotting a splendid spinning kick with the outside of his right boot from the right wing. Impressively, O’Neill repeated the feat two minutes later, securing an advanced mark in a similar position and once again curling the ball over with the outside of his boot.

Demonstrating his versatility, the Clonbullogue native wrapped up the first-half scoring with a point from his left boot.

Unfortunately for Offaly, those moments stood out amidst a half primarily dominated by Dublin, allowing the All-Ireland champions to head into halftime with a commanding 1-10 to 0-4 lead. Dublin found scoring opportunities with relative ease, promptly replying to O’Neill’s initial point with a score from Costello mere seconds later. Following O’Neill’s second point, Dublin swiftly won the ensuing kick-out and orchestrated a rapid attack, culminating in Paul Mannion setting up O’Callaghan for Dublin’s opening goal.

John Small, Costello, Ciaran Kilkenny, and Cian Murphy contributed points for Dublin. At the same time, Costello came close to securing Dublin’s second goal in the 32nd minute, only to be thwarted by Offaly goalkeeper Ian Duffy.

Dublin Dominates Second Half

Dublin wasted no time in finding the net again after the break, less than 90 seconds into the second half. Tom Lahiff delivered a long ball from the right, which O’Callaghan collected cleanly on the edge of the square before passing to the advancing Scully, who finished from close range.

Small added another point shortly after that, extending the gap between the teams to 13 points, with a sense of inevitability enveloping the proceedings.

Despite Offaly outscoring Dublin by 0-6 to 0-5 between the 41st and 66th minutes, with Dylan Hyland contributing three of those points for the Faithful County, Dublin finished strongly in typical fashion. Substitute Lorcan O’Dell notched two scores, and defender Sean MacMahon even ventured forward to secure a point.

Dublin’s scoring tally included Colm Basquel 1-3 (0-1f), Con O’Callaghan 1-2, Niall Scully 1-1, Cormac Costello 0-4 (0-2f), Paul Mannion 0-3, John Small 0-2, Lorcan O’Dell 0-2, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-1, Cian Murphy 0-1, Brian Fenton 0-1, Killian McGinnis 0-1, Sean MacMahon 0-1.

Offaly’s scorers were Dylan Hyland 0-5 (0-2f, 0-1 45), Keith O’Neill 0-3 (0-1 mark), Lee Pearson 0-1, Cathal Flynn 0-1, Jordan Hayes 0-1.

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