No county reacts as well to being underestimated than Offaly and while their hurlers came up short in Cork, their footballers produced the goods to blow favourites Monaghan away at O'Connor Park.
Offaly were brushed aside by Wexford, but they dominated this game as Monaghan's dismal year came to an end. With Ciaran McManus and Richard Dalton in commanding form Tom Cribbin's side cruised into round 2 of the qualifiers.
Offaly surged into a 1-5 to 0-1 lead in the opening 20 minutes, with Dalton setting up the goal for Niall McNamee. Monaghan rallied with points from Conor McManus and Paul Finlay and a goal from Christopher McGuinness. Owen Duffy twice reduced the deficit to one point before Neil McAdam equalised four minutes from the break.
However, Stephen Lonergan and Ciaran McManus responded to gave Offaly a 1-8 to 1-6 lead at half-time.
After the break McNamee's point and a brace of frees from McManus put the hosts in control, five points clear, and there was no way back for Monaghan.
Scorers -- Offaly: N McNamee 1-4, C McManus 0-4 (3f), R Dalton 0-3, S Lonergan 0-2, K Casey, B Allen, N Darby, D Egan, R Brady (f) 0-1 each. Monaghan: C McGuinness 1-0, P Finlay (2f), O Duffy, C McManus (1f), N McAdam 0-2 each, B O'Brien, C Hanratty 0-1 each.
Offaly: A Mulhall; B Darby, J Quinn, S Pender; N Darby, S Brady, S Lonergan; R Dalton, N Smith; R Brady, C McManus, K Slattery; B Allen, K Casey, N McNamee. Subs: P Bracken for Casey (51), S Ryan for Slattery (63), D Egan for Allen (63).
Monaghan: M Keogh; C Galligan, D Morgan, K Duffy; O Duffy, N McAdam, D Hughes; O Lennon, D Clerkin; D McKenna, B O'Brien, M Downey; C McGuinness, P Finaly, C McManus. Subs: C Hughes for Clerkin (h-t), C Hanratty for McKenna (53), V Corey for Downey (64), B McKenna for McGuinnes (64).
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford).
Sunday Indo Sport