Offaly steamroll Longford to secure Division Four title and first Croke Park win in nine years
Offaly 4-16 Longford 1-12
A devastating second half display saw Offaly secure their first league crown since winning the Division Four title since 2008 and also brought Pat Flanagan’s side their first win in Croke Park since 2006.
The midlanders hadn’t won at HQ since the 2006 Leinster semi-final but were superb after the break to run out convincing winners aagainst a disappointing Longford side.
Both sides finished the game with 14 men after Offaly’s Anton Sullivan and Longford’s Diarmuid Masterson picked up second yellow cards with ten minutes to go.
However, those dismissals had little impact on the game as Graham Guilfoyle, Willie Mulhall and Paul McConway hit second half goals to see off a meek challenge from Jack Sheedy's side.
There was no sign of the demolition job to come at the break when Offaly held a 1-7 to 0-6 lead with Nigel Dunne grabbing their goal on 23 minutes. Niall McNamee gathered superbly and his clever hand pass got Bernard Allen beyond the cover. He slipped a pass to Dunne who made no mistake from close range.
Longford almost engineered an immediate reply but Brian Kavanagh’s shot was pushed away by Alan Mulhall in the Offaly goal.
It's been a dark few years for @Offaly_GAA footballers but today marks the start of a bright future. Congrats to pat and everyone involved.— Shane Lowry (@ShaneLowryGolf) April 25, 2015
Pat Flanagan’s side led by 1-3 to 0-3 after a pedestrian opening but things soon opened up. Diarmuid Masterson wandered forward to kick two points from centre back for Longford while McNamee and Dunne got on the scoresheet for Offaly to hand them a four point advantage at the break.
Offaly were in complete control from early in the second half with Longford’s resistance coming in the shape of a goal from sub Shane Doyle.
Even then the result wasn’t in doubt as Offaly recorded their first win over Longford in league or championship since 1997 and laid down a marker ahead of their Leinster championship meeting in three weeks’ time.
SCORERS - Offaly: W Mulhall 1-5 (2f), N Dunne 1-3, N McNamee 0-4, G Guilfoyle, P McConway 1-0 each, B Allen 0-2 (1f), A Sullivan, N Smith 0-1 each.
Longford: B Kavanagh 0-6 (5f), S Doyle 1-0, F McGee (1f), D Masterson 0-2 each, R McNerney (1f), M Quinn 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 E Carroll (57), N Bracken for Allen (64), E Rigney for B Darby (66), C Donohoe for N Darby (67), K Mulally for Mulhall (69), J Evans for McNamee (70).
Longford: P Collum; D Brady, B O’Farrell, P Foy; C P Smyth, D Masterson, E Williams; B Gilleran, K Diffley; M Quinn, P McKeon, R McEntire; R McNerney, B Kavanagh, F McGee SUBS: S Doyle for McKeon (ht), C Farrelly for Williams (47), A Rowan for Smyth, D Reynolds for McGee (both 58), F Battrim for Foy, P Gill for McNerney (both 67).
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh)