Offaly captain Johnny Moloney pictured with the Tailteann Cup at Croke Park.
Offaly captain Johnny Moloney pictured with the Tailteann Cup at Croke Park.

Offaly footballers seek redemptive win against Wexford

By John Harrington

Motivation will be easily sourced for the Offaly footballers against Wexford in the Preliminary Round of the Tailteann Cup against Wexford tomorrow.

It’s just three weeks since they were beaten by the same opponents in the preliminary round of the Leinster Championship on a day when Offaly failed to rise to the occasion.

According to team captain, Johnny Moloney, there’s a desire in their ranks to redeem themselves after that sub-par performance.

“The result actually flattered us down in Wexford,” said Moloney.

“They won by three points but it was a bigger margin than that. It is an opportunity not for revenge, but just to redeem ourselves in putting out a better performance because we were very poor the first day and it wasn’t of the standard we expect of ourselves.

“We are under no illusions, it is going to be very tough. All credit to Wexford the last day, they are much better than people gave them credit for.

“Going into the game, everyone had us down as red-hot favourites, but we were under no illusions that wasn’t going to be the case. We knew there would be nothing in the game but when you looked at the game, Wexford were the far better team so there is a gap for us to close.”

Competing in the Tailteann Cup wasn’t part of Offaly’s plan this year.

They played in Division Two of the Allianz League and the aspiration was to stay there.

Instead they were relegated to Division 3 after just one win from seven matches which meant the Leinster SFC defeat to Wexford saw them enter the Tailteann Cup draw.

Now that they’re in it, Moloney believes it can be a launch-pad to get Offaly football moving in the right direction again.

“The Tailteann Cup was never in our minds and it wasn’t because it was the Tailteann cup, it was because we wanted to stay in Division two,” he says.

“Even saying that, if we stayed up, to be honest, and that was our goal, we would have no business in the qualifiers at the present time.

“I think we will eventually but at the minute, we are two or three years away from that. I think we have a lot of young players who will be able to step up so we can bridge a gap to most teams and be competitive in most games, competitive against all teams hopefully, but not at this moment in time.

“The Tailteann Cup gives us an opportunity to develop something with a view to next season and beyond. If we go well on it, it be a chance to build a bit of momentum so lads are hungry to come in next year and start bridging that gap that I am talkimg about.

“So no, we hadn’t thought about it a whole lot but now that we are in it, it is probably a good thing for this team.”

Offaly's Johnny Moloney in Allianz Football League action earlier this year.
Offaly's Johnny Moloney in Allianz Football League action earlier this year.

Relegation from Division Two and the subsequent Leinster SFC defeat to Wexford would have felt particularly deflating for Offaly football supporters who were still on a high after last year’s All-Ireland U-20 Football Final win.

Many of those All-Ireland winners are now part of the senior panel and Moloney admits he’s never before experienced the sort of buzz around football that now exists in the county.

“No, I haven’t. I have seen some bad times, poor times. I always felt that we were under-achieving, even with the player pool that we had., There were times going to matches when to be honest, I felt that we don’t have a chance. You just wanted teams to max out, that is all you want to do as a player.

“Obviously, as a young player, I dreamt of winning All-Irelands with Offaly but, as you get older, you realise that might not be possible, so all you want then is to max out and want to see improvement. I think it is fair to say the last few years got more of a sense of that.

“And the buzz of the under-20s last year, the journey it brought the county on, not just the football, was unbelievable. And even still, people across the country recognise those under-20 players and it is great they see the potential they do have.

“I suppose it is up to us to manage the buzz around those fellas and make sure that Offaly don’t fall into the trap they have done before where it doesn’t come to a whole pile and we maximise the potential of these players.

“Bridge the gap and that we won’t be playing in the Tailteann Cup and that we can go into the Leinster championship with real hope of winning it and if we do go into the qualifiers with real hope of achieving something and going somewhere.”