Patient Offaly clinch silverware
Offaly 4-16 Longford 1-12: Allianz FL Divsion 4 final
Offaly turned around the form of their earlier defeat to Longford with a resounding victory that is sure to have them approaching another rematch in the Leinster Championship with an extra pep in their step.
Most importantly, though, is the fact that they were winning a final in Croke Park and will earn promotion as Division 4 champions. They were the more economical and patient throughout, particularly in the first half, when Longford will rue kicking 11 of their 14 wides as Offaly built up a 1-7 to 0-6 lead.
Nigel Dunne scored the goal in the 23rd minute, sending a low shot beyond Paddy Collum, who had earlier saved brilliantly from Bernard Allen.
Niall McNamee moved to full-forward in the second half and kicked two quick points before full-back and captain Paul McConway strode forward to finish a move with a rocket to the roof of the Longford net.
Sub Shane Doyle got one back for Jack Sheedy's men and with Brian Kavanagh slotting two frees, the margin was down to four. McNamee settled Offaly with his fourth point from play and Mulhall added a score with either boot to open up a seven-point gap.
Guilfoyle sent a piledriver from 16 metres past the unsighted Collum for Offaly's third goal and the verdict wasn't in any doubt when both sides were reduced to 14 players on the hour, Diarmuid Masterson and Anton Sullivan both receiving yellow cards. There was still time for one more goal, courtesy of Mulhall and the day was Offaly's.
Scorers - Offaly: W Mulhall 1-5(2fs), N Dunne 1-3; N McNamee 0-4, P McConway, G Guilfoyle 1-0 each; B Allen 0-2(1f); A Sullivan, N Smith 0-1 each. Longford: B Kavanagh 0-6(5fs); S Doyle 1-0; F McGee (1f), D Masterson 0-2 each; M Quinn, R McInerney (f) 0-1 each.
Offaly: A Mulhall; B Darby P McConway, D Brady; N Darby, J Moloney, J O'Connor; G Guilfoyle, N Smith; E Carroll, N McNamee, A Sullivan; B Allen, N Dunne, W Mulhall. Subs: P Cunningham for Carroll (57), N Bracken for Allen (64), E Rigney for B Darby (65), C Donohue for N Darby (67), K Mullally for W Mulhall (69), J Evans for McNamee (70)
Longford: P Collum; D Brady, B O'Farrell, P Foy; CP Smyth, D Masterson, E Williams; B Gilleran, K Diffley; M Quinn, P McKeon, R McEntire; R McInerney, B Kavanagh, F McGee. Subs: S Doyle for McKeon (h-t), C Farrelly for Williams (44), A Rowan for Smyth (57), D Reynolds for McGee (57)
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh)
Sunday Indo Sport