Longford shoot lights out in stunning turnaround
Despite the low-key nature of some games in the early stages of the GAA championship, we often get little nuggets to light up the scene and Saturday's performance by Longford in Tullamore was certainly one of those.
The statistics from the match are astonishing.
No less than 11 of the last 12 points were scored by Longford. In the process they went from seven points down in the second half to end up winning by 0-16 to 0-13.
In all my time I cannot recall such a demolition job in 20 odd minutes, especially when only a few weeks ago in the Division 4 final Offaly beat Longford by 13 points. Because of that earlier result, very little was expected from Longford as their tiny band of supporters headed for O'Connor Park. And when Offaly pushed ahead by seven points shortly after the break, their fears looked justified.
But two relatively small developments transformed the game.
Offaly midfielder Niall Smith (above) was black-carded early on and this broke up his recent successful midfield partnership with Graham Guilfoyle. Then in the 54th minute, Offaly captain and full-back Paul McConway retired injured.
Longford full-forward Brian Kavanagh, previously well-contained, then burst on the scene to bang over three great points as Offaly quickly panicked and soon fell to pieces.
Three of Longford's second half subs - Dessie Reynolds, who is just out of minor, Ross McNerney and Peter Foy - scored five more points and Offaly's goose was cooked long before fulltime.
This result is a serious blow to Offaly's rising hopes of a long-term revival and their big following went home very disappointed.
The Longford jubilation will be tempered by the prospect of Dublin in Croke Park in 13 days time.
This only emphasises the shameful decision by the Leinster Council, including Longford and Offaly, to refuse to bring Dublin out of Croke Park to play the winners of Saturday's game.