Dublin and Louth to meet again in Leinster football decider

The holders beat Offaly with ease while the Wee county saw off Kildare in Sunday’s semis

James McCarthy, John Furlong and Keith O'Neill
James McCarthy of Dublin in action against John Furlong (left) and Keith O'Neill of Offaly during the Leinster SFC semi-final. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile (Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Leinster SFC semi-finals Kildare 0-13 Louth 0-17; Dublin 3-22 Offaly 0-11

Yet another dismal attendance, yet another Dublin cakewalk, and Kildare’s ignomious drop into the Tailteann Cup were the big stories from yesterday afternoon’s Leinster SFC double-header at Croke Park which set up a Dublin versus Louth rematch in a fortnight.

Just 21,957 supporters were there in Croke Park for a pair of games where even Louth’s 0-17 to 0-13 win over Kildare never came close to clearing the low bar of providing meaningful entertainment.

The Lilies held a narrow 0-4 to 0-3 lead after Darragh Kirwan pointed midway through the half, but the Wee county shot the next six in-a-row during a phase of play in which their basic, simple structure contrasted sharply with Kildare’s chaos.

Seven of Louth’s eight starters from midfield up kicked a score from play. Kildare missed a host of chances including two goal opportunities for two members of their full-back line, while the third won an attacking mark on the Louth 20-metre line and then skied it wide.

The Lilywhites fielded a big inside forward line of Daniel Flynn, Darragh Kirwan and Kevin Feely, giving them a serious mismatch in terms of size against their Louth markers – and yet the high ball option was never used.

Kildare did make some inroads in the third quarter when a couple of long-range Shane Farrell frees reduced the gap to two points briefly, but Louth kicked on again.

With Tommy Durnin and Conor Grimes controlling midfield while Sam Mulroy added a couple of neat points from play to his five dead ball scores, the Wee county were never under any real pressure.

It didn’t get any better for spectators after that as Dublin duly put Offaly to the sword in the first meeting between the two counties since 2007.

Offaly attempted to employ a strategy of containment, but they had no answer for Dublin’s hard running, while it also left them short of support up front when they tried to get their own tally moving.

Keith O’Neill kicked three points from play in the first half for the Faithful men, including two world-class efforts, but one close-range free was all Offaly could add to that.

At the other end, Dublin had good points from Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan and Colm Costello, and once Mannion set up Con O’Callaghan for the game’s first goal the contest was set on an irreversible course towards what turned out to be a 3-22 to 0-11 win for the reigning All-Ireland champions.

Nine points up at half-time, Dublin soon struck for a second goal through Niall Scully. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this was it came from one of many Dublin attempts to try and use a long ball approach – though, in general, Offaly handled this tactic quite well.

There lead oscillated between 12 and 13 points for long stretches of the second half before Dublin stepped on the gas again in the latter stages, adding their third goal through Colm Basquel in stoppage time.