The Faithful county have clipped the Royal's wings again, for the second time in four years. Offaly, on a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-9, shoked All-Ireland champions Meath at Croke Park today. Pauric Nolan's side were beaten in the Division 2 League final by Louth a few weeks ago but they played with a will and belief that belied the outright favouritism of Sean Boylan's side who are out of the championship at the first hurdle.
Meath looked stale but to be fair were without Nigel Nestor, Hank Traynor and Graham Geraghty. Offaly too though were without their stalwarts, midfielder Ciaran McManus and John Ryan out, but displayed a character that saw them put it up to Meath both physically and on the scoreboard from the outset. Colm Quinn was inspirational for the victors and veteran Vinny Claffey produced a man of the match performance, scoring four points from corner forward.
A very physical encounter at Clones between reigning Ulster champions Armagh and the All-Ireland finalists of 1995 Tyrone was won by the Orchard county today. Armagh lead by 0-6 to 0-3 at half-time having found their form after a slow start against a side that was robbed of the services of star forward Peter Canavan. Canavan failed a pre-match fitness test to make the test for Art McRory and Eugene McKenna's side all the more difficult and the significance of his loss was magnified by a failure to score from play for long periods. Canavan was then introduced 10 minutes into the second half and inspired a mini comeback but after good goalkeeping from Brendan Tierney and despite seeing John Donaldson sent off Armagh held out for victory.
Meanwhile, Roscommon routed London in Ruislip cruising to a 4-18 to 0-10 victory that sees them through to a Connacht semi-final against Leitrim. Having lead 11 points to 4 at half-time and having played against the wind things were looking good but even London could not have expected the efficiency of Roscommon's second half play. Frankie Dolan on 2-2 and Gerry Lohan on 2-1 were Roscommon's main attackers from a sextet that all got their names on the scoreboard. The manner of the defeat will be a hard blow for Tommy McDermott and the exiles to take.
Tomorrow at Tullamore Laois meet Westmeath in their Leinster quarter-final clash. The match is the second on a double bill, being preceded by the replay of the Laois versus Dublin Leinster SHC preliminary round game to decide who will meet Kilkenny in one of the provincial semi-finals.