WITH their confidence boosted after an encouraging display against Westmeath last Sunday, Offaly will travel to Longford with increased optimism for their second National Football League Division 3 encounter next Sunday.
Offaly may have suffered a disappointing one point defeat against Westmeath after coughing up an eight point lead in the closing twenty five minutes but their overall performance should have done them a lot of good as they dig in for a tough league campaign.
They played very well in the first half and came out with all guns blazing in the second half as they scored four points without reply but it all went downhill after that. Despite that, Offaly's performance was better than a lot of people had hoped for and this should rub off on the squad this week as they focus on this Sunday.
There has been a very close rivalry between Offaly and Longford in recent years and this looks to be a 50/50 game, even though Longford have home advantage.
Longford will be without the Mullinalaghta contingent as they prepare for their All-Ireland club semi-final later this month and that increases Offaly's chances.
Key players Peter Cunningham and Eoin Carroll should also improve as February progresses. They are back after a long battle with injury with Cunningham playing the full game at midfield and Carroll coming on as a second half sub. Both need match practice but they will get better as it goes on and their influence will increase, as long as they stay injury free.
Niall McNamee has returned to the Offaly panel but it is likely to be a few weeks before he is considered for action.
Sunday's game will be a tough one but Offaly played with great intensity and heart in their first game. They have a very good chance in Longford and won't be far away.
Verdict – Offaly.