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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018
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Four-goal Offaly power past Longford to clinch Division 4 league crown

Offaly won out in Croke Park today in a dress rehearsal ahead of their championship clash on 16 May.

Offaly players celebrate their victory.
Offaly players celebrate their victory.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Offaly 4-16
Longford 1-12

Fintan O’Toole reports from Croke Park

OFFALY STRUCK FOUR goals en route to Division 4 football league final glory yesterday and tasted success in a senior football clash at Croke Park for the first time since the 2006 Leinster semi-final.

But despite claiming silverware, they’ll face a more critical test against yesterday’s opponents Longford when the counties meet in the Leinster championship opener on 16 May.

In last evening’s dress rehearsal, Offaly were the more accomplished outfit. They stamped their dominance on the game in the second-half after being ahead 1-7 to 0-6 at the interval.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The success helped atone for Offaly’s loss to Limerick in the Division 4 decider two years ago and marked their first league title since they lifted the Division 4 crown in 2008.

In a tight first-half, Offaly edge in front largely due to a splendid finish by Nigel Dunne to the net in the 22nd minute after great approach work from Niall McNamee. Brian Kavanagh and Michael Quinn kept Longford in the hunt to ensure they were only four adrift at the break.

Brian Darby under pressure Offaly's Brian Darby under pressure. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

But Offaly accelerated clear in the second-half. Captain Paul McConway surged forward from full-back to crash home a brilliant second goal for them in the 43rd minute.

Longford cut the gap thanks to an equally fine strike to the net from substitute Shane Doyle three minutes later yet Offaly were not deterred. Midfielder Graham Guilfoyle, who won the man-of-the-match award, struck home a blistering drive in the 56th minute and then William Mulhall notched their fourth goal with six minutes left.

Barry Gilleran and Graham Guilfoyle Longford's Barry Gilleran and Offaly's Graham Guilfoyle. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

That rounded off a fine evening’s work for Offaly as they defeated Longford for the first time since 1997. Next month’s game will represent a stiffer test.

Both sides finished the game with 14 men as Longford’s Diarmuid Masterson and Offaly’s Anton Sullivan were dismissed after both were shown second yellow cards.

Scorers for Offaly: William Mulhall 1-5 (0-2f), Nigel Dunne 1-3, Niall McNamee 0-4, Graham Guilfoyle, Paul McConway 1-0 each, Bernard Allen 0-2 (0-1f), Niall Smith, Anton Sullivan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Longford: Brian Kavanagh 0-6 (0-5f), Shane Doyle 1-0, Diarmuid Masterson, Francis McGee 0-2 each, Michael Quinn, Ross McNerney (0-1f) 0-1 each.

Nigel Dunne celebrates scoring a goal Nigel Dunne celebrates scoring Offaly's first goal of the game. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Offaly

1. Alan Mulhall (Walsh Island)

2. Brian Darby (Rhode)
3. Paul McConway (Tullamore)
4. Daithí Brady (Ballyfore)

5. Niall Darby (Rhode)
6. Johnny Moloney (Tullamore)
7. Joseph O’Connor (St Rynagh’s)

8. Graham Guilfoyle (Clara)
9. Niall Smith (Gracefield)

10. Eoin Carroll (Cappincur)
11. Niall McNamee (Rhode)
12. Anton Sullivan (Rhode)

13. Bernard Allen (Tubber)
14. Nigel Dunne (Shamrocks)
15. William Mulhall (Walsh Island)

Sub
21. Peter Cunningham (Bracknagh) for Carroll (57)
23. Nigel Bracken (Tullamore) for Allen (63)
17. Eoin Rigney (Rhode) for Brian Darby (65)
18. Cian Donohue (St Brigid’s) for Niall Darby (65)
25. Mark Young (Edenderry) for Mulhall (70)
26. Jamie Evans (Gracefield) for McNamee (70)

Longford

1. Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels)

2. Dermot Brady (Longford Slashers)
3. Barry O’Farrell (Carrickedmond)
4. Peter Foy (Longford Slashers)

5. Colm P. Smyth (Abbeylara)
6. Diarmuid Masterson (Dromard)
7. Enda Williams (Clonguish)

8. Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers)
9. Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon)

11. Paul McKeon (Colmcille)
10. Michael Quinn (Emmet Óg Killoe)
12. Ronan McEntire (Dromard)

13. Ross McNerney (Dromard)
14. Brian Kavanagh (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin)
15. Francis McGee (Dromard)

Subs
22. Shane Doyle (Kenagh) for McKeon (half-time)
21. Cian Farrelly (Emmet Óg Killoe) for Williams (45)
20. Aidan Rowan (Cashel) for Smyth (57)
24. Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s) for McGee (57)
17. Fergal Battrim (Abbeylara) for Foy (65)
26. Conor Quane (Lagan Sarsfields) for McNerney (66)

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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