Offaly renew rivalry with Kildare as hurlers prepare for Derry

There will be a place in the Leinster SFC semi-finals at stake when Offaly face neighbours Kildare in Portlaoise tomorrow (Sunday), throw-in 5.30pm).

Offaly booked a quarter-final meeting against Kildare with a 3-14 to 0-20 victory over Carlow at Bord na Móna Park, Tullamore on Sunday last. While Carlow pushed Offaly all the way, the home side’s ability to pounce for goals proved the decisive factor.

With Niall McNamee and Jordan Hayes scoring first-half goals, Offaly led by 2-6 to 0-9 at half-time. Bernard Allen grabbed Offaly’s third goal in the second half, after an initial shot from Clara’s Colm Doyle had been blocked.

Carlow attacker Paul Broderick, who scored a total of 0-8, blasted a penalty over the bar when a goal would have cut Offaly’s lead to three points. The home side went eight points up approaching the closing stages but Niall Carew’s men refused to go down without a fight, with a late point from substitute Cian Farrell finally sealing Offaly’s victory.

Hayes injured himself in the process of scoring that aforementioned goal, but it is hoped that the Edenderry man will be able to play against Kildare.

The last championship meeting between Offaly and Kildare was in the second round of the All-Ireland qualifiers in 2016. Kildare won that encounter in Newbridge on a scoreline of 1-22 to 2-14.

An interesting aspect to Sunday’s clash is that the opposing managers - Offaly’s John Maughan and Kildare’s Jack O’Connor - went head-to-head in the 2004 All-Ireland final in which Kerry defeated Mayo.

Kildare operated in Division 2 of this year’s Allianz Football League, finishing in third place behind promoted teams Roscommon and Armagh.

The winners of Sunday’s Offaly v Kildare clash will meet either Meath or Wicklow in the Leinster semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Offaly’s senior hurlers will belatedly begin their Christy Ring Cup campaign against Derry tday (Saturday) at Páirc Esler, Newry (1.30pm).

Michael Fennelly’s charges were originally scheduled to play Kildare in the third tier hurling competition on October 24. But Offaly GAA officials felt it was not possible to fulfil the fixture, after almost every member of the Offaly panel was deemed a ‘close contact’ of a player who had tested positive with Covid-19.

Kinnitty’s Paddy Delaney and Adrian Hynes of Seir Kieran are among those who have been drafted into the Offaly hurling squad.

Despite their recent Covid-19 difficulties, Offaly are still rated as likely winners of the Christy Ring Cup, with BoyleSports pricing them as strong outright favourites (1/4).

Derry were defeated by Ulster rivals Down by 1-13 to 0-13 last Saturday and they will now face Offaly. The loser of the Round 2B encounter will be out of the competition.

Kildare beat Wicklow by 2-14 to 1-10 in their Round 2A clash last Sunday, thereby qualifying for the semi-finals along with Down. The winners of the Offaly v Derry and Roscommon v Sligo games will join Down and Kildare in the last four.

Offaly’s camogie team are also in action today (Saturday); they take on Wexford in the All-Ireland senior championship at Bellefield, Enniscorthy at 2pm. The Faithful women were well beaten by Galway last weekend, having given a walkover to Cork in their opening Group 1 fixture.

Elsewhere, Offaly’s ladies football team was defeated by Wexford (3-10 to 1-8) in their All-Ireland intermediate championship game in Clane last Saturday. With only one team to qualify for the semi-finals from the three-team group (which also contains Roscommon), Offaly are now unlikely to make the last four.

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