Galway swept effortlessly into this year’s Leinster final with an emphatic 0-33 to 1-11 victory over Offaly in Portlaoise.
Michael Donogue’s side will now face Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford on 2 July at Croke Park – the Tribesmen’s sixth Leinster final since 2010.
Only once, though, did they walk away with the title from those previous five journeys to Croker (in 2012 against Kilkenny), with Galway more accustomed to being cast as Leinster SHC bridesmaids.
Wexford disposed of three-in-a-row chasing Kilkenny (1-20 to 3-11) on route to the final, having also brushed aside Laois, and will be making their first Leinster final appearance since 2008 – the last of four consecutive final defeats at the hands of the Cats. Wexford’s last Leinster title was in 2014.
Offaly hinted that they might make this a contest of this semi-final when Oisin Kelly buried his shot low past Colm Callanan in the Galway goal as early as the fourth minute, but the Offaly lead didn’t last long.
Galway racked up hit nine points from play before Joe Canning slotted their first free in the 23rd minute, and they went on to hold a 0-16 to 1-6 lead at the break.
They pulled further away in the second half with Offaly struggling to live with their dominant opponents.
Offaly finished the day with just four different scorers, while nine Galwaymen found the target, with Conor Whelan their star performer with seven points in a stunning personal display.
“The objective was to come in, win the game and get to the Leinster final. The lads worked hard for the last couple of weeks and thankfully we came away with the win,” said Donoghue.
“Coming down we thought that Offaly might set up with a sweeper and then they set up with two in the first-half.
“Testament to our boys, they adjusted themselves and often had to go shooting from distance. They took the scores when they presented themselves.”
Offaly manager Kevin Ryan, said: “We created two or three good goal chances on top of the one we got. And our set-up and our game-plan, as such, was working.
“We could have easily have found ourselves level or even a point up at half-time so there were definitely positives in the first-half.
“I definitely thought five minutes into the second-half, it was over and the scoreline reflected that in the end and the body language changed. But again, it’s a learning curve and Galway are in the top two or three in the country. Wherever we are, we know where we are and it is about getting better as we go forward.
“We will re-group as any team will, look at the draw and we will take the positives and whatever else and we have a qualifier in two weeks’ time and we are looking forward to that, as much as anyone else.”
Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-7 (6fs), Conor Whelan 0-7, Niall Burke 0-5, Shane Maloney 0-4, Aidan Harte 0-3, Padraic Mannion 0-2, Cathal Mannion 0-2, Johnny Coen 0-2, Conor Cooney 0-1
Scorers for Offaly: Shane Dooley 0-9 (6fs, 165), Oisin Kelly 1-0, Emmet Nolan 0-1, Liam Langton 0-1.
GALWAY: Colm Callanan; Adrian Tuohy, Daithi Burke, John Hansbury; Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen, David Burke; Jason Flynn, Joe Canning, Niall Burke; Conor Whelan, Cathal Mannion, Conor Cooney.
Subs: Shane Maloney for C Mannion (24), Matt Donohue for P Mannion (55), Sean Loftus for Tuohy (58) Eanna Burke for Canning (61), Padraig Brehony for David Burke (62).
OFFALY: James Dempsey; Ben Conneely, Dermot Shortt, Enda Grogan; Sean Ryan, Sean Gardiner, David King; Paddy Murphy, Shane Kinsella; Padraig Guinan, Joe Bergin, Emmett Nolan; Sean Cleary, Shane Dooley, Oisin Kelly.
Subs: Liam Langton for Cleary (42), Pat Camon for Ryan (52), Stephen Quirke for Guinan (54), Daniel Doughan for Murphy (61), James Mulrooney for Kinsella (63).