An attendance of just over 9.000 turned up at Croke Park on 13 July 1980 to watch Kilkenny take on Offaly in the Leinster hurling final.

That number, a reflection most thought as to the likely outcome of the decider, with the majority expecting the Cats, the then All-Ireland holders, to march on to another provincial success.  

The Faithful, however, were on their own march. They campaigned successfully for an 'open draw' in Leinster and drafted in a Kilkenny man - Diarmuid Healy - to oversee their rise. It was felt at the time that if Offaly got a helping hand to improve their skill and instill a greater belief, they could achieve much.

That July day some 40 years ago was the beginning of a golden period for Offaly hurling. In a thrilling encounter they had one point to spare over Kilkenny - 3-17 to 5-10 - but in truth the margin of victory flattered them.

Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh chose Offaly's Leinster hurling final victory of 1980 as the greatest GAA shock that he has witnessed.   

In 1981, things would even better for the county when All-Ireland glory was achieved - the first of four titles for the midlanders.