Former Dublin footballer and current Longford manager, Jack Sheedy, has joined the chorus calling for Dublin to play outside Croke Park after his side earned an unlikely tilt at the Leinster Champions last night.
Longford clawed back a seven-point deficit, scoring 11 of the last 12 points in O'Connor Park to win 0-16 to 0-13 and extend Offaly's winless streak in the Leinster SFC to an eighth year.
"Why not?" was Sheedy's reply after he was asked if their clash with Dublin should be switched away from the capital. "You'd put the guts of 30,000 people in here. Absolutely it should be played here but it's not going to be.
"I'm on record as having said that Dublin games should be brought out of Croke Park until the Leinster semi-final or final. And certain Dublin players have endorsed that and Jim Gavin has endorsed that. That's where it should be, that's not going to be, but we'll just get on with it.
"And we're looking forward to going to Croke Park. Those lads in there are going to be encouraged and enthusiastic about going to Croke Park because that's where the best teams play."
Asked how he would prepare his side for the challenge ahead, Sheedy added: "I will be totally different. But, you know, nobody in the country gives us a chance in hell of beating Dublin. And we've got to be realistic, they're three divisions higher than us and probably second favourites for the All-Ireland this year or very close to it.
"All we can ask from the guys on any given day is that they do their level best and try their hardest and they put in a very solid shift."
Not surprisingly, Offaly manager Pat Flanagan could not hide his disappointment. "It's bitterly disappointing. There's no point in saying any different. We thought we were progressing after our League final performance. We felt that we were on the right road. But it proved that mentally, we're still a bit weak.
"Because when the pressure came on, we crumbled, to be totally honest. There's no point in saying any different. When our backs were to the wall, we didn't dig deep enough."
Last night's other Leinster Championship game saw Laois cruise past Carlow to book a date with Kildare, winning 3-16 to 0-8.
"We prepared well," said their manager Tomás Ó Flatharta, "and no matter what the opposition you have to show up on the night and play well too. We did that. I thought our forwards set the tone by tackling very well. Our midfield was strong and I thought our backs did very well too
"It's nice to get a win but we'll put it behind us now and get on with the preparations for the next game."
Sunday Indo Sport