Action from the Kildare v Offaly Leinster IFC semi-final match at Hawkfield. Pictures: Karl Gormley
A goal filled victory over Offaly will see Kildare take their place in the TG4 Leinster Intermediate Football Championship final against old foes Wexford, after the latter overcame Laois in their respective semi-final to set up the sides’ third pairing of 2022.
It was Kildare who got off the best start in their tie with Offaly at Hawkfield on Sunday afternoon, with Neasa Dooley netting inside the opening minute to ensure that Kildare gained an early advantage. This proved to be an advantage that they would never relinquish.
A trading of points from Saorah Doyle and Dooley maintained the goal difference before Aoife Rattigan and Lara Curran pointed to edge Kildare further clear.
Determined to keep within sight of the home side Marie Byrne gathered before netting into the Milltown end of the Mangard Plus Hawkfield venue to cancel out Dooley’s earlier effort. A further point from Michelle Mann had the sides within one with just over 10 minutes played as Kildare lost their way momentarily.
Refusing to give in and turning to Curran, a point had Kildare two clear before Orlaith Sullivan struck crisply off the right to leave Kildare three clear moments later. Determined to make a difference for the Kildare effort, Dooley was soon on hand once more in front of goals. Netting her second, she began an onslaught of Kildare goals that left Offaly struggling with the turn of pace Kildare brought to the tie.
Picture: Karl Gormley
With Sullivan and Clifford netting also, Kildare were into a healthy advantage. Clifford played a pass to Ciara Wheeler before striding forward to take the return pass before netting past Eimear Evans with pace.
A late trading of points looked to ensure that Kildare maintained their healthy 12-point advantage as the sides took to the dressing room to get out of the blistering sun for the break.
On the return, Offaly were again determined to respond to the late Kildare rally and points from Doyle and Ellee McEvoy looked to get the faithful county back into contention, but this was to no avail as Kildare soon found their groove once more. A point from Dooley steadied the ship before Rattigan pointed from the kick off.
A second without reply from Rattigan again had Kildare on the attack as Gillian Wheeler gained possession and looked to find her way through to go one on one with Evans. Hauled to the turf, Kildare found themselves awarded a penalty and, making no mistake from the spot, Dooley netted.
Clinching her second hat-trick of the 2022 championship, Dooley had Kildare 16 points clear before Ciara Wheeler saw yellow, as Kildare were reduced to 14 for 10 minutes. Adding a brace from Sullivan in this time, Kildare weathered the storm before Dervila McGinn was put to the test in the Kildare goals.
With Emma Hand worming her way into the heart of the Kildare defence she unleashed her shot, with McGinn’s diving save equal to the strike Kildare pushed on through two Curran points to put 20 points between the sides.
Picture: Karl Gormley
With two minutes of the regulation 60 remaining, Kildare had one eye on the final that awaited them. Sarah Keogh took advantage of this and netted to ensure that Offaly would show the watching support that they refused to give in. A trading of points from Byrne and Dooley maintained the difference before a last minute goal from Byrne hauled the deficit back to 14 before the final whistle. Taking the gloss off the Kildare victory the finish gave Sean Finnegan something to worry about as he plans for a TG4 Intermediate Leinster Final against Wexford this Sunday.
Scorers: Kildare: Neasa Dooley 3-3 (1-0 pen); Orlaith Sullivan 1-3 (2f); Aoife Rattigan 0-5; Grace Clifford 1-0; Lara Curran 0-2 (1f); Hazel McLoughlin 0-1. Offaly: Marie Byrne 2-1; Sarah Keogh 1-0; Saorah Doyle 0-3 (3f); Michelle Mann 0-1; Ellee McEvoy 0-1.
Kildare: Dervila McGinn; Claire Nugent, Laoise Lenehan, Rachel Cribbin; Mia Doherty, Lara Gilbert, Mauren Murtagh; Grace Clifford, Hazel McLoughlin; Ciara Wheeler, Aoife Rattigan, Claire Sullivan; Neasa Dooley, Orlaith Sullivan, Lara Curran. Subs: Gillian Wheeler, for McLoughlin, 30; Gemma Harnett for Gilbert, 39; Shauna Kendrick for Murtagh, 39; Roisin Forde for Lenehan, 50.
Offaly: Tara Roe; Becky Bryant, Emer Nally, Nicole Buckley; Michelle Mann, Emma Maher, Annie Keogh; Emma Hand, Roisin Ennis; Amy Gavin Mangan, Roisin Mealiff, Saoirse McGuinness; Saorah Doyle, Ellee McEvoy, Marie Byrne. Subs: Dawn Hannon for Nally, 26; Sarah Keogh for McGuinness, 42.
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