Dubs get reward for Faith
DUBLIN were far from impressive but they eventually produced the goods in the second half to account for a limited Offaly in their one-sided Leinster U21 Hurling Championship semi-final at Parnell Park last night.
The Dubs will now defend their provincial title -- in a repeat of last year's Leinster final with Wexford, on Wednesday July 13 in Wexford Park -- and there will be plenty for manager John McEvoy to work on in the interim.
One of the key concerns will be the slow start experienced by Dublin once again and, despite registering the first two points through Kevin O'Loughlin and Eamon Dillon, the Dubs endured a scoreless period of 12 minutes before O'Loughlin settled nerves with a 17th-minute point.
The hosts' difficulties were reflected in the ease with which Gary Conneely and Shane Kinsella scored points.
In addition, Adrian Hynes troubled Darren Kelly in the air on the edge of the square as the Faithful hit six successive points in just eight minutes, albeit with the benefit of a stiffish breeze.
That Dublin controlled affairs from that point on was largely down to the redeployment of Danny Sutcliffe from wing-forward into his regular position at centrefield as Dublin began to monopolise possession.
Ciarán Brennan brought Dublin to within two points by the 22nd minute and a strong conclusion to the half saw Robbie Mahon, O'Loughlin and Dillon help the Dubs to a 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead. Quickly after the restart, Dublin added four unanswered points through two O'Loughlin frees, Mahon and the increasingly dominant Sutcliffe.
Offaly's own barren spell lasted 28 minutes, reflecting how quickly their challenge evaporated but they finally opened their second-half account through Hynes' third free of the evening.
That score failed to stifle Dublin's momentum as Martin Quilty, Sutcliffe and O'Loughlin began to enjoy the extra space afforded to them, with the Kilmacud Crokes player putting over a sublime solo score in the 43rd minute.
It was one-way traffic now as O'Loughlin added three frees along with a cracking individual score by Sutcliffe in a five-minute period.
Another bonus for Dublin was the reappearance in the county colours of Niall McMorrow after a lengthy absence through injury. His point in the 54th minute was a telling reminder of Dublin's options in attack.
A goal should have followed soon after but Stephen Corcoran did well to block McMorrow's shot from close range, and late points from O'Loughlin and Dillon saw Dublin home at their ease.
SCORERS -- Dublin: K O'Loughlin 0-11 (7f, 1 '65'), E Dillon 0-3, R Mahon, D Sutcliffe 0-2, C Brennan, S McGrath, N McMorrow 0-1 each. Offaly: A Hynes 0-3 (3f), S Kinsella, G Conneely 0-2, T Carroll 0-1.
DUBLIN: G McManus; B O'Carroll, D Kelly, J Doughan; D Curran, L Rushe, M Quilty; C Gough, D Plunkett; D Sutcliffe, M Schutte, R Mahon; C Brennan, E Dillon, K O'Loughlin. Subs: S McGrath for Brennan (34), N McMorrow for Mahon (50), F Clabby for Rushe (52), T Connolly for Plunkett (55), C Murphy for O'Carroll (56).
OFFALY: S Corcoran; D Magner, S Coughlan, C McDonald; D Shortt, E Murphy, B Mulrooney; M Ryan, T Spain; S Cleary, G Conneely, S Kinsella; S Gardiner, A Hynes, T Carroll. Subs: D King for Ryan (24), J Sampson for Kinsella (27), G Spollen for Shortt (41), A Kelly for Conneely (45), J Geraghty for Spain (52).
REF: D Hughes (Carlow).