London senior football team manager Michael Maher. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile (

Offaly humbled by London in shock defeat

Tailteann Cup Group 4

London 2-20 Offaly 0-12

Offaly slumped to a shock defeat at the hands of London in their Tailteann Cup opener at Tullamore last Saturday - but it was the manner of the defeat that really sent shockwaves through the GAA world.

A London win of any kind would have been a major surprise - indeed, it was their first championship victory in 11 years - but a win by 14 points was the sort of result nobody saw coming.

London registered one win and one draw in Division 4 of this year's Allianz Football League, finishing second from bottom ahead of Waterford (the only team they beat).

At a sunny Glenisk O'Connor Park last Saturday, London led by two points at half-time, 0-8 to 0-6, but at this stage it was expected that Offaly would lift their performance level in the second half.

However, the Exiles moved further ahead and goals by Stephen Dornan and the excellent Ciarán Diver (65th minute) clinched a sensational win.

Offaly substitute Dan Molloy was shown a straight red card shortly afterwards as the day went from bad to worse for the home side. It was a day to remember for London manager Michael Maher and his team, while the outcome will prompt a post mortem in Offaly.

Offaly's Leinster championship win over Laois may have been over-praised in certain quarters - after all, Laois had operated in Division 4 this year and had a player sent off during the first half - but there was still plenty to enthuse about in that display. And there was absolutely no shame in Offaly then losing heavily to All-Ireland champions Dublin considering the hammerings the Dubs have dished out to so many teams over recent years.

Having enjoyed a local derby win over Laois and then faced the might of Dublin in Croke Park, perhaps it was always going to be difficult for Offaly to get motivated for a Tailteann Cup game against London. Offaly defeated London by nine points in the corresponding fixture last year, but they never really raised a gallop on Saturday.

Despite the manner of loss, there is still a decent chance of Offaly reaching the Tailteann Cup knockout stages as three of the third placed teams in the four groups will advance to preliminary quarter-finals.

Offaly are away to Limerick in their next game at Mick Neville Park, Rathkeale on Saturday (3pm) where they will be looking to atone for the London defeat. Limerick were narrowly defeated by Offaly in their last league game year, having already been relegated from Division 3, and they heavily lost to Down in their Tailteann Cup opener last Saturday (1-20 to 1-6).

Scorers - London: C Diver 1-5 (0-3 frees); S Dornan 1-1; S Rafter 0-4; D Clarke, R Rafferty and J Obahor 0-2 each; M Carroll, A McLoughlin, E Walsh and L Gallagher (f) 0-1 each. Offaly: D Hyland 0-4 (2f); J Bryant (1f) and N Dunne (1f) 0-2 each; C Donoghue, P Cunningham, E Carroll (mark) and I Duffy (’45) 0-1 each.

London: Andrew Walsh; Eoin Walsh, Daire Rooney, Ciarán McKeon; Oran Kerr, Shay Rafter, Aidan McLoughlin; Stephen Dornan, Liam Gallagher; Michael Carroll, Daniel Clarke, Ciarán Diver; Joshua Obahor, Ruairí Rafferty, Fiontan Eastwood. Subs used: Michael Miller for Kerr (58 mins), Cahir Healy for McLoughlin (60), Tighe Barry for McKeon (64), DJ O’Flaherty for Rafter (64) and Joseph McGill for Rafferty (70+1).

Offaly: Ian Duffy; Lee Pearson, David Dempsey, John Furlong; Cormac Egan, Rory Egan, Peter Cunningham; Eoin Carroll, Cathal Donoghue; Dylan Hyland, Cathal Flynn, Jordan Hayes; Cian Farrell, Keith O’Neill, Jack Bryant. Subs used: Jack O’Brien for R Egan (43 mins), Nigel Dunne for Flynn (45), Ruairí McNamee for Farrell (48), Nathan Poland for Donoghue and Dan Molloy for Dempsey (66).

Referee: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary).