Kildare booked their place in the first-ever Leinster U20 football final when coasting to an impressive 3-14 to 2-5 victory over Offaly at Tullamore.
The inaugural U20 provincial final will take place this night week, wherein opposition will be provided by either Dublin or Meath, who are due to meet in Navan tomorrow night.
The slick, lively Lilywhites - Leinster minor champions two years ago - made a rip-roaring start in the the scorching heat of O'Connor Park and were practically home and hosed after ten minutes when they led by eleven points, 2-6 to 0-1. Paddy Woodgate netted in the third minute and Brian McLoughlin added the second Kildare three-pointer four minutes later, while Padraig Nash (3), McLoughlin, Stephen Comerford and Jimmy Hyland all knocked over early points.
However, the Faithful County had the better of the second quarter and goals from Conor Dunne and Kevin McDermott in the 16th and 29th minutes respectively had them just about in contention at the short whistle, 2-7 to 2-1.
Offaly had wind advantage when the action resumed but the winners kicked on upon the restart with points from Hyland (2), Aaron Masterson and McLoughlin before the latter pounced to palm home his second goal on 45 minutes to finish the game as any kind of contest, 3-11 to 2-1.
Substitute Cian Costigan hit the next Kildare point and there was no way back for the home side, though they kept battling until the end.
Kildare - A O'Neill; M Dempsey, J Gibbons, DJ Earley; T Archbold (0-1), M Barrett, S Comerford (0-1); A Masterson (0-1), D Marnell; R O'Giollain (0-1), P Nash (0-3), D Ryan; P Woodgate (1-0), J Hyland (0-3, 1f), B McLoughlin (2-2). Subs: C Costigan (0-1) for P Woodgate, S Doran for B McLoughlin (BC), N Murphy (0-1) for J Hyland, M Betts Symonds for D Ryan, S O'Sullivan for D Marnell, J Barrett for S Comerford.
Offaly - B Rohan; R Hynes, P Robilliard, A Bracken; J O'Brien, S Geoghegan, J Quinn; K Higgins, S Ibbotson; K McDermott (1-0), C Johnson (0-1), D Wyer; C Dunne (1-1), C Farrell (0-1f), Shane O'Brien. Subs: E Bennett for A Bracken, J Darcy (0-1) for S O'Brien, R Galbraith (0-1) for D Wyer, A Delaney for S Ibbotson, Seamus O'Brien for J O'Brien.
Referee - J Hickey.
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