This week in our series of 'Great GAA Speeches', Hubert Rigney joined Darren Frehill on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport to recall Offaly's 1998 All-Ireland SHC success.

It was a summer where the midlanders were described as "sheep running around in a heap" by then manager Michael 'Babs' Keating after their Leinster final loss to Kilkenny. 

That led to 'Babs' departure and in came a man named Bond, Michael Bond to steady the ship.

Offaly's season was about to turn. They ended up in an All-Ireland semi-final against Clare.

After stalemate on a sun-drenched day at Croker, it was back to GAA HQ. This time, the Banner had the better of things, despite Offaly being game throughout. Clare were three points to the good when the final whistle blew.

However, referee Jimmy Cooney had not played the full 70 minutes, a genuine mistake by the Galway official.

The GAA's top brass decided that another replay was the fairest way to settle things. It was on to Thurles. 

Offaly, with renewed vigour, were deserving winners. Clare had no answers, their tank had run empty.

Onwards to the All-Ireland final. The Cats, ten weeks on from the Leinster final, were the opposition.

Offaly team on All-Ireland final day

The tables were turned in emphatic style as Offaly ran out comfortable winners and so were All-Ireland champions for the fourth time. From the Banagher club in Offaly, Hubert Rigney climbed the Hogan Stand to accept Liam MacCarthy.

"People of Offaly, we've done it", was Rigney's immediate response on accepting the trophy. 

"We may have come in through the back door, but we're going out the front. 

In paying tribute to Michael Bond, Rigney added: "I have to thank the county board, they got a man, I don't know where they got him, we didn't know him and he didn't know us.

"He's done a tremendous job since he came in here - Michael Bond."


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