Final more than Leinster dress rehearsal for Longford and Offaly

The two meet in championship but Division Four final is only realistic silverware chance

AFL Division Four final

Longford v Offaly, Croke Park, 5.15

The counties should resist any inclination to even slight distraction because of the imminence of the Leinster championship meeting, as this evening represents a more reliable route to a piece of silverware than anything likely to happen during the summer.

It’s been a positive season for both sides, who return to Division Three at the first time of asking. Offaly wobbled a bit mid-season but finished strongly to end Antrim’s late run into contention.

The regulation match between the counties isn’t of huge evidential value, as Offaly found themselves down to 12 by the end of the match and yet Longford didn’t put the match away for a long time. They have however beaten their opponents in all of the three matches played over league and championship in the past two seasons.

Jack Sheedy's Longford have been strong and consistent and are the only side with an unbeaten record in this year's league. Strong in the middle, they have penetrative forwards in Brian Kavanagh, Francis McGee and under-21 Ross McNerney.

Offaly though showed signs of lifting their form in the final match against Antrim and they have top class inside forwards in Bernard Allen and the long-running Niall McNamee. They may have learned enough from the recent reverses at the hands of their opponents to turn the irde.

LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Dermot Brady, Barry O'Farrell, Peter Foy; Colm P Smyth, Diarmuid Masterson, Enda Williams; Barry Gilleran, Kevin Diffley; Michael Quinn, Paul McKeon, Ronan McEntire; Ross McNerney, Brian Kavanagh, Francis McGee.

OFFALY: Tba

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)

Verdict: Offaly.