Offaly manager Emmet McDonnell declared himself satisfied with their performance against Kildare, despite a four-point defeat.
The Faithful County met Kieran McGeeney’s men at the same stage of the Leinster SFC last summer and fell to a 0-19 to 0-06 defeat.
And McDonnell, who took over in August, was keen to point to the positives in Saturday’s 0-19 to 1-12 loss.
He told RTÉ Sport: “We were confident coming up that we were going to get a performance, and I think we certainly got that. To see the Offaly people standing, clapping the lads off at the end shows that they know how far these guys have come in a short space of time and we’re making progress.
“The biggest positive we can take is that we can compete at this level. Losing to Kildare by four points in Croke Park is no mean feat, based on six years working under Kieran [McGeeney] versus six or seven months working under this management team.
“We spoke with the players inside and while we’re not happy with a moral victory, we know we’re on the road. It was 19 points to six last year so we’re making big progress.
“There was a ten-minute spell in the second half where we struggled and Kildare got ahead and they may have had a stronger bench, with some players coming on like Seanie Johnston who got a couple of scores when he came on.
“That was probably the difference at the end of the day.”
"To see the Offaly people standing, clapping the lads off at the end shows that they know how far these guys have come"
Offaly now go down the Qualifier route and the Westmeath native was delighted with the performances of some of his younger players.
He said: “Daithi Brady had a fantastic game at corner-back, Johnny Brickland, for 50 minutes, had a mighty game. He just got a little bit tired near the end.”