Mulhall: Offaly on same level as anyone in Leinster except Dubs
Twenty years on from Offaly's last Leinster SFC title, Alan Mulhall acknowledges that competing with an all-conquering Dublin side is a distant possibility in 2017, but he doesn't see any difference between the Faithful and the best of the rest in the province.
After suffering an agonising one-point defeat to bitter rivals Westmeath in Leinster this year, the 34-year-old goalkeeper is already eyeing their O'Connor Park rematch in June.
The winners face a likely last-four clash with the three-in-a-row-seeking Dubs, but Mulhall feels little separates the second tier in Leinster and is confident that something special is brewing under manager Pat Flanagan.
"Next year is as good a chance as any getting Dublin in a semi-final if you beat Westmeath. It is very hard to beat Dublin in a Leinster final. There is that gap with Dublin and everyone else at the minute," he said.
"We see ourselves at the level of Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Longford, all those counties. We see ourselves as equal to them. Hopefully we can push on to get past them.
"I'm probably on my last legs - I had a lot of thinking to do about whether I was going back or not. I had a chat with Pat and a few of the lads. I think there is something coming in Offaly, I'm going back to try to drive it on."
Presiding over the coaching and games development of GAA in north Leinster, Mulhall casts an eye over the provincial landscape and is confident that the playing field with the Dubs is levelling off at underage.
"No, it is just at senior level," he said. "I've Louth, Meath, Kildare, Longford and Westmeath, they are my five counties.
"The structures in those counties are excellent. The Development Squads are all on their programmes."
"They are all bringing in as many players as they can. All our Development Squad competitions that we run, Dublin are losing matches, Kildare are losing matches, Meath are losing matches, it is fairly competitive."
After the "sickener" of missing out on promotion from Division 3 by score difference, Offaly's main aim is to atone next year.
"The league is a true reflection of where teams are and as part of our growth we are looking to get out of Division 3. We see ourselves as being good enough to be in Division 2.
"It was good to get that Leinster win, we'll be hoping to go a step further next year."