Niall Darby of Offaly hugs his girlfriend Nicola O'Connor following the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Round 1 match between Louth and Offaly at Páirc Tailteann in Navan, Meath.
Niall Darby of Offaly hugs his girlfriend Nicola O'Connor following the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Round 1 match between Louth and Offaly at Páirc Tailteann in Navan, Meath. 

Leinster SFC: Offaly beat Louth after extra-time


Leinster senior football championship first round

OFFALY 3-19 LOUTH 0-19 (After extra-time)

By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann, Navan

Allianz League status ultimately proved a reliable indicator for Championship gains in Navan as Offaly built on their promotion from Division 3 with a dramatic Leinster SFC Round 1 win.

But it took a Herculean effort from John Maughan's men who required extra-time and a powerful cameo from veteran Niall McNamee to secure their quarter-final place.

Beaten by Derry in the Division 3 final last weekend, the Faithful showed impressive conditioning and resolve to outscore Louth by 2-4 to 0-1 in extra-time to set up a clash with Kildare next weekend.

McNamee scored 1-3 in total including one of the crucial extra-time goals while he set up the other for Peter Cunningham.

It was tough on Louth, promoted from Division 4, who punched well above their status for long periods before eventually succumbing.

Their season is over though they will take plenty from their league progress under new manager Mickey Harte and from the fact that they went down fighting here.

Open champion Shane Lowry was a satisfied spectator in Navan with Cian Farrell shooting 0-7 for his county and among 11 different scorers.

Offaly may have arrived at Pairc Tailteann with the superior league record but it was Louth that had performed better in the provincial championship across the last decade.

With just two wins from 13 games in Leinster between 2011 and 2020, Offaly actually possessed the worst record in the province in that period.

Louth, meanwhile, were chasing their seventh win in that timeframe and while they started slowly they came roaring back into it with a terrific second quarter.

Offaly led by 0-6 to 0-4 at the first water break but Louth's response was to reel off five of the next six points to lead by 0-9 to 0-7 at half-time.

Louth struggled initially to contain Offaly duo McNamee and Farrell who kicked a brace of points each in the opening 20 minutes.

McNamee, who came on at Croke Park last weekend, oozed quality again and his movement was superb with the 35-year-old also playing in Cunningham for a score.

At the other end, Louth frustratingly dropped three point attempts short into Offaly 'keeper Paddy Dunican's arms.

But the water break helped Louth who restarted the brighter and ran hard at Offaly's defence.

Sam Mulroy converted two frees and powerful Conor Grimes boomed over a score as the underdogs turned the screw.

Experienced Offaly forward Anton Sullivan, after kicking away possession on three occasions, was substituted in the 30th minute as Maughan's patience wore thin.

A Ryan Burns point stretched Louth's lead to three early in the second-half but Offaly were much improved from there on, dominating the third quarter.

The 2006 Leinster finalists scored seven of the 10 points in the third quarter to lead by 0-13 to 0-12 at the second water break.

Now it was Louth making the mistakes and appearing ruffled but they regained their composure to regain the lead and were one ahead with 10 minutes remaining.

A 64th minute Bernard Allen goal for Offaly looked like it may be the decisive score. It was a point attempt that drop short into the net after Offaly had turned over a short Louth kick-out and a Farrell free shortly after left the midlanders 1-15 to 0-15 ahead.

But Louth simply wouldn't die and levelled it for the eighth time with points from Anthony Williams and Mulroy, the equaliser coming from a 74th minute free, to force extra-time.

It looked like anyone's game at that stage but Offaly ran out surprisingly comfortable nine-point winners.

McNamee's 75th minute goal was a palmed effort from close range after Cunningham's pass and the pair reversed roles in the second-half of extra-time for Cunningham to this time rattle the net.

Offaly scorers: Cian Farrell 0-7 (0-4f), Niall McNamee 1-3, Peter Cunningham 1-1, Bernard Allen 1-0, Paddy Dunican 0-2 (0-1 45, 0-01f), Ruairi McNamee 0-1, Jordan Hayes 0-1, Niall Darby 0-1, Bill Carroll 0-1, Mark Abbott 0-1, Eoin Carroll 0-1

Louth scorers: Sam Mulroy 0-6 (0-4f), Ciaran Byrne 0-3, Ciaran Keenan 0-2, Conor Grimes 0-1, Ryan Burns 0-1, Eoghan Callaghan 0-1, Liam Jackson 0-1, Dermot Campbell 0-1, Declan Byrne 0-1, Anthony Williams 0-1, C Downey 0-1.

OFFALY: Paddy Dunican; James Lalor, Eoin Rigney, Niall Darby; David Dempsey, Johnny Moloney, Colm Doyle; Peter Cunningham, Jordan Hayes; Shane Horan, Carl Stewart, Anton Sullivan; Cian Farrell, Niall McNamee, Ruairi McNamee.

Subs: Bill Carroll for Sullivan (30), Eoin Carroll for Horan (h/t), Bernard Allen for Cunningham (56), Cathal Mangan for Moloney (61), Mark Abbott for R McNamee (70). Sullivan for B Carroll (e/t), Cunningham for Hayes (e/t), Cian Donohoe for Stewart (e/t), Jack Quinn for Doyle (78), Joe Maher for N McNamee (86), Aaron Leavy for Dempsey (91).

LOUTH: Craig Lynch; Dan Corcoran, Dermot Campbell, Donal McKenny; Emmet Carolan, Anthony Williams, Eoghan Callaghan; Bevan Duffy, Ciaran Byrne; Liam Jackson, Sam Mulroy, Ciaran Downey; Ciaran Keenan, Conor Grimes, Ryan Burns.

Subs: Declan Byrne for Burns (45), N Sharkey for Corcoran (51), Sean Marry for Duffy (68), Daire Nally for Jackson (68), Conal McKeever for Grimes (76). Tommy Durnin for Lally (77), Jackson for Keenan (h/t e/t), John Clutterbuck for Carolan (84).

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).